10

Twenty years ago, while on a five-month backpacking trip through Europe, Israel and Egypt, I made a life-changing decision. Until then, I had been working in a psychiatric half-way house, but was finding that I preferred making portraits of the patients to doing the therapy. I left the job to travel with a friend.

Then one morning at sunrise, after a grueling hike to the top of the famed Masada overlooking the Dead Sea in Israel, I had an epiphany.  I was taking pictures in the hazy golden light and I turned to my friend and said, "I wish I could just be a photographer." Without missing a beat she smiled and said, "Do it!"

I went home at the end of that trip and started taking pictures part-time. Soon, I had somehow talked my way into a full-time job at a photography studio in Boston, shooting any job that came in, from legal photography to weddings. I continued my education that way, working for photographers who could teach me a particular photographic skill, also learning the business of photography along the way.

I sometimes marvel that I found my calling in making portraits, and that I still love my job so much - even after 20 years. I wish that for my children, for everyone. I love the creativity, always learning new things, being my own boss, but most of all, I love the people I get to work with. They regularly make my day: a two-year old climbs into my lap and asks me to read to him, a mom cries happy tears looking at my pictures of her kids, a person sitting for a professional portrait says, "Wow, do I really look like that? I look great!"

Transformation and connection occurs, people see themselves in a new way, tell me their heartbreaking, heartwarming or hilarious stories, and trust me to make pictures of them and the people they love. It is truly an honor.