Photography: From hobby to career, and back again

I was the first person in my family to go to college. So imagine my surprise when, after graduating college, I found that my bachelor's degree in psychology from U.C. Berkeley wasn't helping me get a job. I laugh about it now, but it wasn't until I was out of my insulated world as a student that it really dawned on me that a lot of employers cared more about what you could do, rather than what you could learn.

As a result, I fell back on my skills in photography — which had been a hobby up until then — and got a job at a small portrait studio in San Francisco's financial district.

After a couple of years there, I followed up on a childhood dream of being a teacher and went back to Berkeley to get a teaching credential. However, it didn't take me long to discover that — at least for me — teaching was not a dream job.

Fortunately, it wasn't long before I found a new path. I was visiting family over spring break towards the end of my second year of teaching elementary school in Palo Alto, when I picked up a local newspaper and started looking at the photographs. I told myself, “I could take photos like those,” and more importantly, thought it would be something I'd really enjoy. So when my contract expired at the end of the school year, I figured destiny was calling.

I moved back to Central California, and with the help of some community college classes in journalism and photojournalism, along with a subsequent newspaper internship at the Hanford Sentinel, I launched a career as a photojournalist.

And ironically I ended up working as a photographer at the same newspaper, the Visalia Times-Delta, that had started me thinking of photojournalism as a career path in the first place.

After a couple of years at that paper and a brief stint at the Sacramento Bee's zoned edition, Neighbors, I decided to move to the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington state to be a freelance photojournalist (and to be closer to my husband-to-be).

As a freelancer, I worked for the Associated Press and scores of clients, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times and a lot of publications in between. My longest running freelance client was a regional wine magazine, Wine Press Northwest, where I took the majority of their photos and also did their some of their layouts.

Along the way, I worked on a coffee table cookbook, Northwest Wining and Dining, with a Seattle author, Braiden Rex-Johnson. And I worked with San Diego-area artist, Scott Jacobs, on reference photographs that he used to help create several of his photorealistic acrylic paintings. (This was no doubt what sparked an interest for me in creating my own paintings.)

In 2013, I started down a new career path in web developing, and now photography is back to being a hobby for me.