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Photo Credit: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

In 2011, I went through an exhibit at the Newseum in Washington D.C. that contained the photographs that the photojournalism world deemed to be the best of the best. Most of them were images I had seen before but were never presented in such a way.

As I exited the low-light hallway where the exhibit was housed, there was only one thought in my head: I wanted to see one of my own photographs among a group of monumental images that hold the power to sway public opinion on the subject matter.

Due to numerous factors that include low self-esteem and a poor support system, I wrote the desire off as a dream that would never come true. I graduated high school the following year and attended the local community college in my hometown for a brief period. Then, I moved out of my small hometown with its toxic mentality and up to Minneapolis, MN.

Instead of going back to school, because of the price tag, I gained experience in many different jobs from a stage theater usher to a barista at a high-volume coffeehouse. The entire time photography was at the back of my mind, but I was still too scared to fail, so I kept making up reasons why I shouldn’t try.

Then, in 2015, my partner’s father passed away from aggressive brain cancer and I lost the opportunity to photograph him because I was comfortable telling myself that I was no good without any solid proof. I hope others are able to find a light to help them out of the darkness, as I did when I met my partner. Through the healthy support system she provided and her constant encouragement, I started to believe that being a professional photographer was a real possibility for me.

Now I am over halfway through my second semester pursuing a degree in the very medium I initially thought was so far out of my reach. Never sell yourself short. The secret to confidence is believing in yourself.

 

Guest columns are written by The Sentry staff to give them the experience of writing  an editorial and the platform to share their stories.

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