I will never forget when I opened the beautiful, worn wooden box that was stowed away underneath my great-grandmother’s bed. It had dust around the keyhole, signifying that it had been forgotten about over the years. The box housed her high school diploma, a wedding certificate, some hand-written poems, and a few black-and-white photographs. My heart began to race and I immediately grabbed the photos; but as soon as my excitement rose, the realization that she was no longer with us quickly brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes a moment does not feel real until you find your way through the clouds of denial. She was gone.
One photograph, in particular, brought back the essence of her life and immediately shifted the energy in the room. The image showed my grandmother as a very young and beautiful woman standing with a horse, taken during the time my grandparents rode and trained horses. It was then I first realized that my love for photography is more than just a hobby. It is the desire to document the ebbs and flows of life, inner beauty, love, happiness, tears. It’s a way to color outside the lines, to capture imagery that will not only carry memories for those who’ve stepped in front of my lens, but for the generations that follow as they remember their loved ones.
As I continue to chase my dream of becoming a full-time portrait photographer, the passion I have for this art form carries me through the struggles. I will admit, I haven’t had the best of luck with outreach, which takes a toll on my self-confidence, quite frankly. On several days, I considered selling the camera and locking up my love for photography forever. Those may have been some of the darkest days I have experienced. And as life progressed, time began to slip away. The regular day job became more about just making a paycheck to survive the next few weeks. The flame was close to being snuffed out, but focusing on family, work, and home life kept me going.
I never knew how powerful photography could be until I found those images. They woke up that burning flame and slapped that passion right back into my soul. Not a day goes by that I do not miss that wonderful woman—her undying love for anyone she met, her laugh, her amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, but most importantly, her belief in the dreams of all her loved ones. Her voice in my head tells me to keep chasing my dream.
Sometimes I find that we learn the most powerful lessons in the most unpredictable ways. It is so easy to give up on something you love so strongly. When I picked the camera back up, I knew that was where it needed to be: in my hands. I will continue to work on this craft, using both film and digital cameras to create art that breathes life, complexity, organic emotion, and timeless memories of moments forever captured in time. And I hope I can eventually share this craft with the world.
My great-grandmother’s beautiful wooden box is now displayed in the home I share with my loved one as a daily reminder of her legacy, the love she shared with us, and the reason I continue to pursue my passion for photography.
Author – Brenton Gumminger
Hey there! My name is Brenton Gumminger and I am a dental hygienist with aspirations of portrait photography. I am a born and raised Kansas City native (on the Missouri side) with an endless love for tacos, white cheddar popcorn, and dark chocolate sea salt caramels. I love meeting new people, sharing in laughter and love, while strengthening new friendships! My passion for photography grows stronger with each passing day and it warms my heart to share my creativity with the world. Feel free to say hello sometime! I promise I won’t bite. @brentonguice
Illustrator – Sami Davis
On the shores of Southern California, Sami cultivated her creative lifestyle from a young age; enjoying nothing more than running around the backyard with bare feet. As she grew up dabbling in paint and other creative media, Sami knew her career MUST have a huge artistic impact—if not, what was she even doing? After achieving a degree in Visual Communications at FIDM and gaining experience in marketing, graphic design, event management, product styling, and fine arts, her aesthetic has been nothing but experimental through her years as a designer. Her approach is innovative and full of emotion, with direct influence from the shapes of the flora and fauna which surround all of us.
Her biggest mission? To elevate what the world thinks “beautiful” means and encourage thinking outside all bounds. Bringing art and creative ambition to all aspects of life makes her heart the happiest. That—and a cold jasmine milk tea with boba.