JASON ATEN | MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHER

I NEVER WANTED TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER

I never wanted to be a photographer.  Its true, it wasn't something that even entered my mind.  I wasn't one of the people who grew up with a K1000 in my hands (though it was my first SLR).  I've been taking photos for a very long time.  I've shoot thousands of rolls of film, and close to a half million digital images. I've always been facinated by photography, and the craftsmanship involved in making a compelling image, but I never imagined I'd be a professional photographer.  

Even today, I don't really view myself as a photographer. While it's a big part of what I do, it's not really the "why" I do it.  I don't wake up mornings dreaming about f-stops and exposure compensation.  I don't dream about finding new locations or experimenting with new lighting techniques.  You see, for me, photography isn't the thing.  For me, photography is the tool that helps me share the real "thing," - the story - with the world. 

I am a storyteller.  I am captivated by the intimate connections we make as we travel along this common journey.  I am motivated by the power of a shared story.  That's what gets me up in the morning, and it's what I think about when I lie awake at night.  

For me, sometimes that looks like photographing the first moments of a couple's life together at their wedding. Sometimes it's photographing a young family as they get to know their newest child.  Sometimes it's simply photographing the three little people that run around our life.  

Sometimes it looks like working with a major company develop a brand and content marketing strategy.  Sometimes it looks like teaching creatives to understand the principles and best practices needed to make a go at their dream of buidling something profitable and sustainable.  No matter what I'm doing on a given day (and every day is truly different balancing three different businesses), I am constantly immersed in stories.

And for me, that's really the "thing."  The story.

You might be wondering why on earth I'm sharing this with you.  I'm wondering the same thing, until I consider that this post might not be for you.  Instead, it's something that's been rattling around in my brain as I've tried to figure out how to allow these different adventures to co-exist in some way.  It has always seemed as though they are completely different journeys, and that giving to any of them means sacrificing the others.  

Recently, though, it occurred to me that it's mostly a question of perspective.  As I take a wider angle approach to what I do, and who I am, I've started to realize that even though it seems on the surface to be three different worlds - it's really just different manifestations of the same desire to be a part of helping people tell their stories.  This realization has been liberating in so many ways, not the least of which is that it gives me permission to live into the way I'm wired - no matter what it looks like on a day-to-day basis.  It also means that there are some really interesting changes coming to the way I live into each area that I'm involved (stay tuned for that!).

So there you go - I'm not a photographer, or a marketer, or an educator or a coach.  I'm a story-cultivator. 

 

What's your story?  I'd love to hear it.