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A Lifetime of Work

Everything has lead to this moment.

When I was 12, my dad gave me his old Pentax film camera, and the rest is history.

By the time I was 16 and graduating high school, my dad was set on me attending Emily Carr University of Art & Design. At the time. because of the negative words from my art teachers, I never thought I would be a successful artist, and continued to pursue other career goals, while still doing photography as a hobby.

I graduated and immediately flew to Ontario to be with my oldest sister who had just left the military, and was living with her now husband, who was also in the military. I moved to their tiny town of Pembroke, Ontario and attended Algonquin College to get my business degree. While getting that degree, I found myself a military man and thought I would stay in that small town, so I went back to school to get my Personal Support Worker Certificate to work in healthcare which was a booming industry in the small town.

That relationship ended and as soon as I walked the stage to get my second diploma, I walked right out into the parking lot where my dad and my packed car were waiting for me to drive back to B.C. together. That was a road trip I will never forget.

After moving back to B.C., I worked as a care aide for 5 years, while still doing photography as a hobby business on the side. I got married, pregnant, and divorced all within 3 years, and this change in my life forced me leave my comfort zone and start to make the journey towards being the sole provider for my daughter, and finding out who I truly was.

I quit my steady job in healthcare and began working as a photographer full time.

I lived my best life as a single mom, even living for a year and a half in a '76 bluebird school bus that I converted to a mini home because there was no other way for me to get ahead to afford a place for my daughter and I. Despite not having anything to my name, I grew my photography business from nothing to an award winning, reputable business, winning Kelowna's best photographer in 2018, 2019, silver in 2020 while on maternity leave, gold again in 2021, 2022 and I am now in the nomination round for 2023. Among these awards, I also won gold for Entrepreneur under 30, twice, and best overall facebook page. These were just the KelownaNow awards, while I was also winning multiple other awards including Platinum Gold for Best Photographer from CommunityVotes Kelowna.

Now, in March 2023, I have opened my first commercial studio space, one year after purchasing my first home in Vernon, and everything I've ever worked for, and was told was unattainable, is mine.

I am finally a studio owner.

This doesn't just expand my art, it expands my ability to serve my community, and to fully lean into being the artist I am meant to be, with room to grow, play and experiment.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported my business, my art, and my mental health through this insane journey. I knew in my heart that these were the goals I was working towards, but finally having those goals in the palm of my hands is the most insane, liberating feeling I've ever experienced.

For 8 years I have been working a full time career as an artist, while also being the main caregiver for both of my kids who are 3 and 10 at the moment, while not having a professional space to work out of. My work has been left up to the whim of reschedules due to weather, and my art has been limited to a 400 square foot room that was not meant to be a studio space.

But I did it.

I did every single thing that I had to do, to get to where I am now. Despite negative criticism, despite lack of resources, time, energy and will power, I did it.

When it seemed impossible, I kept going. And now I am here.

This process has been a dream come true, and despite the hiccups that made me open my doors almost an entire month late, I did it.

The first day in my setup studio, I sat in the middle of the room, and told 12-year-old Selina that we did it. And I've never cried harder. Thank you for all of the support and I look forward to the day I get to turn you into art in my brand new space.

Thank you.

- Selina


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