Later this month I will graduate with my Masters degree in Clinical Counseling from Columbia International University. My separate journey's of growth with my photography and counseling are so intertwined that it is often difficult to tell which is driving the other at times. I figured I would spend some time this month sharing about this journey, those who have pour into my life, and how this intertwined journey has shaped both who I am as a photographer and a therapist.
There is a reason I am starting this series today. That reason is because it's April 3rd and that means it's me and Christine Benz's four year friendiversery.
I met Christine when I stepped in to fill a spot in a musical at the school I had attended. I had just applied and had been accepting in the counseling program and finally could tell you what I wanted to be when I grew up- a therapist. Man, I seriously had no clear what I was getting myself into. Anyways, I look over to a group of cast mates talking and there is Christine in a feather boa. She screamed "BANANA SPLIT" and jumped to the ground in a full blown split. There is was. Destiny. I had found a friend for life. The beginning of our friendship was more like an announcement that this was just the way things were going to be and to get used to it.
LOOK AT US- WE WERE BABIES!
Over the next four years Christine would play a fundamental role as I developed as a photographer. Even though photography was always a great interest of mine, she is the one who gave me the technical skills to create art. She helped pour into the natural eye that I had and explained what worked and what didn't. But Christine did so much more than just teach me about ISO and aperture. She is the one who helped teach me how to bring life and connection into my work. She took a chance and had me second shoot for her at a gorgeous wedding in Greenville. 30 something weddings later I still come running every chance I can get to second shoot for this lady.
As I began my counseling studies, I learned about building rapport, unconditional positive regard, and various theories about living one's authentic life. At the same time I was working with Christine and hearing very similar concepts. These two experiences drove me to have a desire to connect with my therapeutic and photography clients in an authentic manner, to bring out what makes each individual so unique, to celebrate differences, and to find ways to encounter and overcome fears. My friendship and working relationship with Christine has driven me to view counseling as an extension of who I am, and she has encouraged me to take risks and to create art that evokes changes with the things that I am passionate about (trust me, there will be a lot more regarding this in a later post).
The point of me sharing all of this is to A.) celebrate the last four years of living life with this gal- seriously, she's a gem, and if you ain't her frand than make it happen because your are surely missing out. and B.) to encourage everyone to surround yourself with people who are willing to take chances on you, push you, LAUGH with you, celebrate your triumphs, and cry with you when life is so hard. Find friends that can mentor you, and teach you, and truth slap you. Find other artists who get your vision and who admire your differences. My friendship with Christine has made all the difference in my art, and ultimately in career as a counselor.
So here's to art, and here's to friendship, and here's to another four years of fun with this dear one!
AND be sure to check out Christine's work at christinebenzphoto.com