The story behind Cast Iron
I took my love for photography to the bank (and the tax office) officially in 2011, and rebranded the business as Cast Iron Photography in 2016. Growing up, most of my family's meals were prepared in a cast iron skillet, and the specific, unique care of that instrument was a major educational element of my childhood. I knew that if I did it wrong, the skillet would be ruined—and if I did it right, it would be able to live up to its potential.
As an adult, the symbolism of cast iron within southern culture struck me—I grew up with the children of farmers and cowboys, businesspeople and engineers, and much pride is taken in how tough we, as Texans, are. We work hard to earn what we have (be it position or relationship or opportunity) and fight fiercely to maintain our earnings. But listen to our music and read our books, and you will see cowboys and engineers nurture rich, sensitive hearts beneath their iron-clad exteriors. Whether we're rocked by a weather-induced tragedy, disease, accident, or abuse, we are absolutely sensitive to our environments, and our futures—the manner in which we continue to fight and work and battle—are constantly changed and shaped by our pasts.
In my eyes, Cast Iron Photography exists to be a part of the specific, unique care of my people. If I do it wrong—push for perfection, edit out every flaw, over-pose and under-relate—ruin. But if I do it right—presenting genuine emotion and encouraging relationships, leaving room for both pride and humility—maybe my friends and I both can live up to our potential.
At some point in college, I made the conscious decision to stop hating photos taken of me. This was less of a decision of self-worth, and more of one of self-preservation--if I continued to stress out over all the photos that I thought were unflattering, unattractive, undesirable, I'd lose my mind--because it was pretty much all of them! Something tells me I'm not the only one with this issue. Anyways, I decided to just deal with it and accept photos of me for what they were...and something crazy happened.
I started believing in myself.
Believing that my smile is probably beautiful a lot of the time, even if it isn't some of the time. Believing that just because my friend's camera found THE most unflattering angle of me EVER doesn't mean that I am a fat lump of lard. Believing that I am worth cutting a break. And all this believing in myself began turning into something even better--believing in other people. Which, by the way, is a relieving way to live.
Around this time, as an experiment, I took my younger sister's senior photos. They turned out shockingly spectacular. Not shocking because she isn't beautiful--she's absolutely stunning--but shocking because I had pretty much no previous experience in taking portraits. My sister wasn't surprised, though--I remember her telling me, "It's because you know me, and I'm not nervous around you. It's because I trust you."
And she trusted me because I truly, honestly, believed in her. It took that relationship to make the photos work. It's a kind of magic--the love between sisters. A kind of magic that transcended inexperience and helped create images that we still treasure. Generally speaking, I believe we have much to treasure.
So, here we are, nine years later. I have spent the better part of the last decade honing my crafts, experimenting, failing, succeeding, growing. Even though I have learned much regarding lighting, posing, and best of all, voice--what I keep coming back to are the truths that spelled out success in my very first shoot. It's not going to work unless you and I believe in each other, trust each other, and work out of a real relationship. But when we do--and we will--we're unstoppable, and we will end up telling the stories of the truest version of ourselves. Anything less, anything else, is an injustice.
Cast Iron Photography: a business built on trust, grown in faith, and thriving through relationships. Working out of Van Alstyne, Texas.