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Amamus Photography

BACK THEN... 

As a pre-teen, I was gifted my first camera by my parents.  My family spent winter weekends at our hunting lease where my brother and I learned about the wonders of the great outdoors. We learned about independence, how to push our boundaries (in a good way - most of the time...) and even how to drive (and crash).   

I also learned my camera! I would sit in the deer stand with it, waiting for any creature to come in my view. I wanted to capture these animals in their natural environment and create images that no other person on the ranch could see with the naked eye. My camera opened up a whole new world to me. I saw things others missed and used my favorite toy to capture them. I loved showing the images to my friends and family and watching as their eyes lit up, expressing how they'd "never seen this before." My pictures were my "trophies," and the foundation of my passion was laid. 

When I picked up my camera, I feel like I was brought into a new world.  I felt like I was creating something no one else could see, because it was me and my camera at that very moment to capture.  I was spending a fairly substantial amount of my parents' money going to the local drug store to get my film developed and study every shot with my notes on how I took it.  When I took a darkroom class in high school as a junior and learned how to develop my own film, I was in my happy place!  My passion for photography grew during high school.  I served as the school newspaper photographer and helped other students in the photography class learn about their cameras and the magic of a darkroom.  

I pursued a few different interests early in college, but ultimately decided to follow my lifelong passion, earning a BA in Arts of Photography from The University of Tulsa.  Through college I learned more of the fine art side of photography and about curated gallery shows.  I learned how to add artificial light to my images, albeit not in a pretty way… it was all trial and error and mostly error!  While in college I was introduced to digital photography.  We would scan in our negatives and use photoshop to edit the photographs.  It was hard!!  I’m glad my hand was forced at learning the program, otherwise I’m not sure where I’d be today. 

                                    medownshotpier

**The image above is from 2005!!  I had just received my first digital camera and was playing around, trying to figure out how to take selfies (while standing on my parents pier... in retrospect, probably not the safest thing!!).**

 

After attaining my Fine Arts degree, I took a job at a portrait photography studio near my hometown of Portland, Texas.  Kelly was a fantastic mentor!  She photographed weddings, seniors and families.  I would hold consultations with new clients,  did editing work on her images and managed the phone calls.  It was so much fun!!  I would listen to her on phone calls and how she interacted with clients in the studio.  She shot my wedding, and became my first mentor and I couldn't have been happier!  She passed to me a great deal of knowledge and gave me experience working in a studio. I will be forever grateful to her.    

During my time in Kelly’s studio, I learned of an educational conference just for photographers.  My interest was peaked!!  A whole slew of other photographers in one place all sharing info!!  What!?!?!  It would be several years later before I was able to attend a photography conference, but I feel like I started with one of the best.  Texas School for Professional Photographers is a conference held for one week every spring in the Dallas area and is affiliated with Professional Photographers of America (I’ve been a member of for over a decade).  OH! MY!  STARS!!  The wealth of information I gain every year is beyond belief.  I have a number of people in the industry I have met there and can call and ask for advice whenever I need to, vent to,  celebrate with and talk shop with.  I might be the one behind the camera taking the photograph, but there have been many people over the years that have poured into me and helped me mold my skills into what they are today.  It’s the talented photographers that I have meet at events like Texas School that have inspired and encouraged me to start the process of becoming a Certified Professional Photographer.  I am studying and practicing currently and will take the exam soon!  Wish me luck, I'm super nervous!!     

 

WHAT I KNOW NOW!

                                       20201209-ME3

**Now, in 2021, my most recent self portrait.  I had just gotten back from taking all my kiddos to school and was organizing my in-home-studio... sweatshirt + messy hair + beautiful imperfections = ME.  I wanted an image that represented the real me, just in case I need a reminder in the future.**   

 

I am thankful for the many different phases of my photography journey, even the extended break and failed attempts at genius ideas.  I have struggled on and off over the years to find meaning in my photography.  Why does it matter?  Who needs it and why?  Are my photographs even good?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I love to photograph the world we live in and that’s good enough.  We each have our own idea of what is meaningful and beautiful and those don’t always line up with one another.  I love creating beautiful photographs.  I love sharing my photographs.  Therefore, I will keep taking photographs!

I took a creative sabbatical while starting to raise tiny humans to be self sufficient.  And let’s be real... we are still a long way off.  It was a necessary thing for me to do!  I have always felt my best while being creative.   Becoming a new mom while balancing my photography proved to be a huge feat.  I felt the need to slow down and find my inspiration over time..... I found that ideas born out of inspiration lead to a fantastic kind of energy versus ideas born out of desperation which always lead me to choas.

 

                                           4girlsfirstpix         

                                           Cooke2017-9        

                                           CookeGirlspringpro20... 

                                                        

Over time, more inspiration came which helped me come to Amamus Photography.  Part of my kids curriculum in school was Latin.  I myself took Latin in High School.  No clue why, just wanted to be different I guess.  In helping our girls with their studies we were also talking about my search for a new business name.  Something other than my name which I had been using for more than a decade.  We were tossing around the idea of love, compassion, thoughtfulness, connection… and my oldest came up with WE LOVE, which in Latin is Amamus.  “We love” felt all inclusive, it felt whole, and it also sounds a bit like “a mama’s”, which is exactly what I am!  I am beyond blessed to have 4 kiddos that I can be there for and I cherish this time while they are younger.  However, as slow as each day goes by, the years fly by at top speed. Causing me to feel like I have all the time in the world to figure out how to balance it all, while simultaneously feeling like I don’t have enough time to get my to-do list done on a daily basis.

When you prioritize your to-do list and make a decision for what is best to come first, you do end up pushing some things aside for later.  And that’s ok.  I’ve come to realize that when you really take time to think about what you and your loved one’s need, making a choice and being comfortable and confident in that choice is important.... then good things come from that.

My husband and I made a choice together when our family was just starting to grow.  We decided that it would be best for us all to pour myself into our children and stay home with them during those young years.  We’ve made sacrifices over the years, we’ve questioned our choices but I have always had faith that God would lead us in the right direction.  I had faith that I made a good choice and asked for God's grace and that one day those things I’d put aside would come back around and find a place in our life.

Our girls are 4, 6, 10 and 12.  I see them becoming independent, exploring, and growing into pretty cool little people!  I also see that our family dynamic is changing.  Our little people don’t need me to walk behind them in case they fall.  They don’t need me to watch their every single move because they aren’t toddlers (although I still have to wipe a bum every now and then!).... and what does that mean??  It means I now have the extra brain space to focus on one thing that has been a constant....  that thing I think about daily but has been put on the back burner.... photography!

We made a big move not too long ago, and have happily settled in the Bulverde/Spring Branch area.  Our family is thriving here and I feel like it’s time for me to start creating again!     

What is important? 

I have struggled with the question of how my photography matters in the real world? And what exactly does “the real world” look like anyway... who determined that one??  Generally, I think we all give ourselves a pretty strict definition of that, which instills just a bit of apprehension when trying to move forward and grow.  In my opinion, “the real world” is what we make it.  And it has taken me quite some time to realize that.  If it matters to me, it matters to the world and I should do something about it. 

So, here I am. 

I am.... a follower of Christ, a wife, a daughter, a mother of four young girls, a friend who will listen with her whole heart, a lover of all things blue, and a person who has a need for creativity and strives for being the best me every day.

 

      4143sm     

         *My parents and one of my big brothers*

    CookeCrew 

                   *My in-laws at the family ranch with our fur babies*        

  8334tent 

            *We camp.....  in our backyard!*

  8595

I took this image on the day of our 15th wedding anniversary, from a mountainside in Aspen, Co where we celebrated 15 years by hiking and fly fishing.  We pulled over on our way to dinner to take in the sunset and I couldn't help but snap a shot.  So, with a jankie travel tripod and a timer set to 10 seconds... I would set and run to him... set and run... over and over until I got this shot.  Maybe one day I'll post all the failed attempts of my tripping on the way to him, the giggles, the tripod falling over which lead to a grass-only shot.... let's just say, I got my cardio in to get this relaxed sunset portrait! 

 

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