Guest Post | Glenda McCoy | Photography is my Voice


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I met and connected with Glenda at one of my local photography classes this year.  After becoming friends, it was obvious to me how photography was not only a passion for her but also very therapeutic for Glenda.   I am thrilled she agreed to share her story with us.  Thank you Glenda!


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Honestly, words fail me these days.  In September, I was told by neurologists that my only child, Katherine, who turned two in July, has a malformed Cerebellum and likely a progressive metabolic disease.

As fate would have it, just this past spring I picked up a copy of Tops Magazine and came across a story on Kristin Tatem.  At the time I had started writing for the blog HerKentucky and was very interested in photography. Personally, I was struggling because my motherly instincts told me that something was not quite right with my 17 month old daughter.  Despite weekly visits to occupational and physical therapists, she still wasn’t walking as she approached her second birthday.  I sought solace in the outdoors, taking daily walks on my lunch break at work in Frankfort and snapping pictures of the beauty around me.  Only then was I able to stop worrying and enjoy a moment of peace.

When I read about Kristin’s experience as a self-taught photographer and new mother who wanted to take better pictures of her son, I was immediately intrigued because I was seriously considering the possibility of signing up for photography classes at the University of Kentucky but wasn’t quite sure how I would manage that with a full-time job and child with developmental delays.  I wanted to be a better photographer, but found myself increasingly overwhelmed by the learning curve.  I did not know how to shoot in manual mode.  Sometimes I would get lucky and get a good photograph on my automatic setting but really did not know why it was good.

In the article, Kristin mentioned that she read her camera manual.  So, I set out to do the same and purchased a “how to” type book.  I found it all to be very confusing.  There was so much to learn and I felt like I just did not have the time to invest. However, I really wanted to take beautiful photographs – ones that told my story and reflected what I was seeing and feeling in this world.  A part of me almost gave up.  Photography is a time consuming (and expensive) hobby and I told myself that I was taking on too much given my circumstances.  But, this wasn’t just any hobby.  Photography was becoming my therapy, my outlet, my voice.  It was just too special to settle for automatic photographs.  I wanted to have more control over my story and to make it as accurate as possible.

"Photography was becoming my therapy, my outlet, my voice."

I knew from Kristin’s interview that she shared the same love of photography, even though our circumstances are different.   Her portraits are beautiful, full of love and beautiful, natural light.  I followed her page on Facebook and saw that she was teaching a beginners photography class.  Truthfully, I was skeptical that I could learn much in just a few hours, but I wasn’t making much progress on my own and was growing increasingly frustrated.  I decided it couldn’t hurt to try.

Just recently I was telling Kristin that you never know how much of an impact you might have on somebody’s life.  Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she has a natural gift for teaching.  How lucky I was to stumble upon her at a time in my life that I really needed some guidance.  And, she was just the right person to give me that guidance.  I left her class invigorated, much less overwhelmed and afraid, but hopeful, and with a much greater understanding of photography.  My camera now lives on the manual setting and I am in control of my tool, my voice.  I have much more to learn and will continue to learn my entire life, but Kristin’s class got me over my fears and gave me a great foundation from which I am constantly building.

When the doctors told us to “spend as much time with our daughter as possible,” I felt so hopeless and heart broken.  I honestly did not know how in the world I was going find the strength to carry on and give her the life she deserved.  Much of those early days are a blur.  Once again, I turned to my camera for comfort.  When I looked into the lens, I was living in that frame.  There is no tomorrow in that moment; just that second captured for all time.  I can blur out the background and focus on my daughter’s smile, the twinkle in her eyes, the space between her two front teeth, or her little hands splashing in the water.  The world stops and I am at peace.

I do not know what tomorrow brings.  I believe in science, prayers, hard work, positive thought, and the healing power of love.  Each day I share my photographs with friends and family and tell them a story that doesn’t need words.  It’s a story of hope, love, and determination.  As we continue ahead on our journey toward a diagnosis, I see a thriving girl who is progressing, not regressing.  I see a future with many more photographs of accomplishments, milestones, and laughter.  The past few months have taught me a very valuable lesson: You never know what the next second of your life will bring.  Each moment is precious.  Each day is a gift.  I consider myself very fortunate that I armed myself with the tools I need to capture these moments.

 

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Photography by Glenda McCoy

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