Nope, not yet.
Friday felt like a turning point. I am in this class that everyone has to take that lets you take different workshops so you can sort of sample different media. For the past 3 weeks, I've been in a photo workshop about portraiture. My teacher is wonderful and smart (and cute). Not everyone in my workshop was a photographer, and it was neat to watch painters, sculptors, and printmakers (oh my!) really be able to appreciate how photos are created in the darkroom. It really is magical. I mean, you put light on a piece of paper for a few seconds, drop it into a stinky liquid, and there's a picture that lasts forever? Magical. Requires a lot of patience. It was fun to see people realize that photographers ARE artists.
Anyway, so for our critique yesterday, we all put our photos on the wall, and before we talked about them in a group, we spent sometime wandering around, getting a close look at all the photos people made. Somehow, my teacher and I bumped into each other while he was looking at my photos and I was looking at the person's next to mine. Out of the corner of my eye, I was watching him watch my photos, and I didn't think he knew that they were mine or that I was even there or even what my name was. Then he said to no one in particular, "Oh. You're a photographer." My face turned red and I started sweating (did I mention he's cute?), and then he looked at me (which is that last thing you want a young, cute, accomplished artist teacher doing when you're red and sweaty and I'M A WHAT?)
OK, so he knew they were mine. And that I was standing there. And my name (I figured this out later). And he said what he said ON PURPOSE. I smiled awkwardly and shifted down the line, hoping no one got too close to me, otherwise they would have felt the heat radiating from my (apparently) 13- year-old body. Hello, I'm one of the oldest people in this room and I'm as nervous and awkward as I was the first time I slow danced with a boy. (Mick Todd. Savage Garden. Freedom Friday. 6th grade. Outfit from Limited Too. Freshly cut bangs. The short-lived beverage Surge was also involved.) It doesn't get any worse (unfortunately, it doesn't get any better, either).
This was a very small moment in the grand scheme of things. It shouldn't have been a big deal. For the past year or so, plenty of people have called me a photographer. But it felt uncomfortable. Because I haven't been doing it for very long. Because I don't have Photoshop. Because I haven't yet created a "body of work." Yadda yadda yadda. All these things that I have on a list that would make me a photographer. It wasn't the person that said it that validated it for me, it was the timing. And all of a sudden, I'm fine with the label. It feels comfortable yet exciting.
Maybe it's because I spent the last week in the darkroom, where I sort of had to re-teach myself the processes, since I haven't had access to a dark lab in more than 2 years. But, it was just like riding a bike, and I produced some images that I'm really happy with. I love Fitty, but nothing compares to the wonder of printing your own images. I can't get enough of it. I like to listen to the Beatles and the Beach Boys when I work. I'm not really sure why.
I love being reassured that I'm in the right place at the right time.
Thanks be to God!
PS. Every Saturday night, there is this party trolley that circles my block, and it sounds like Raiford's on wheels. Every time they go down the hill in front of my place, everyone squeals with delight/probably some fear because alcohol and hills don't mix. I always want to jump on it!
PPS. T-minus 4 days till I go to Memphis. I can almost taste the Chickalay.