When I was asked to write “From her perspective,” I, of course, was honored and grateful, yet I was a little nervous, too. I mean, I just wrote a book and exposed most of my life to the world so why was I nervous? I suppose because I am human, and we all get a little nervous at times!
That’s what I wrote the Hauntings/Redemption about. It’s a story about “being human.” It started 5 years ago when, again, I was so nervous about tapping into the photography world. I had been shooting for about a year professionally. I went to see my mama because I found myself feeling uninspired with my work already. I remember walking in, she was sitting at the kitchen table and she said, “Hey baby, why are you not at work?” I kissed her, sat down beside her and said, “Mom, I don’t know if I am meant for this. I’m bored with this mundane photography and I am super nervous to capture how I see things, how I feel, because I don’t think anyone will get it.”
She walked to the coffee pot and poured us both a cup, slammed the coffee pot down, turned around and said, “I didn’t raise you to be like everyone else. I raised you to be you. You, the one the creator made with all her quirks and emotion, passion and amazing sight. I raised you to be you, my darling and I will not stand for anything less. You are an artist and you will be ever emerging and always finding your way, but you will not quit!”
I sat there with my eyes wide, mouth opened and said, “Why are you being so dramatic?” My mom was always dramatic, no matter what, God bless her soul! She continued, “You will be like this one day when one of your children walks in and questions themselves based on what others think.” That was a powerful statement. She looked at me and said, “You are called and set apart, my dear, NOW ACT LIKE IT!”
She grabbed the almond milk creamer, came back to the table and said, “I know exactly what we will do. Yep, we are going to give Shreveport a show and watch how big it gets! They’ve always wondered about us. Let’s give them something to talk about. Let’s tell a story about witches for Halloween. Me and Jen can do the makeup and the three of us can style everything. We will do it right here in the backyard.”
I said, “Wait a minute, I don’t think you are hearing me, Mom. I’m trying to build a clientele, not scare them.” She told me to hush, that we were doing it, and there began my book, The Hauntings! The first year we created The Tea Party Hauntings. Mama passed away the following June of ovarian cancer and in her honor, we called it The Steampunk Wonderstrucks Hauntings, followed by The Muse Hauntings. I was done after that year. It’s so much work and I was not sure if people would even notice if I stopped The Hauntings series. (Hi, my name is Brittany and I am a perfectionist. Currently trying to stay in recovery.)
And then I had this dream. I am pretty keen on dreams and could not ignore this particular dream. I saw the entire cast and the way I would shoot my vision, but I saw most clearly the reason I was supposed to do this one. I had been given an assignment to tell a story for the hurting. Not just the normal, “this is my story,” but to talk about the parts no one ever wants to talk about because of nervousness and fear. I wanted to give permission for people to be OK with where they are even though they may not be where they want to be. I wanted to talk about real love… the kind that most have but do not cultivate… unconditional love.
Every character is a piece of myself except for Ms. Antonia. A person I have been, a person I have wanted to be and all the different chapters of my life that made me who I have grown to be. Before posting the story to social media each day, I thought WHY AM I DOING THIS?! Then I remember hearing my sweet mama say, “This is going to be bigger than you one day, baby, and that is why you can’t stop being you. You have a purpose and calling. Your way of seeing the world will be a beacon of light and hope for people you won’t even know.”
She would tell my sister, my brother and me this often. Mama wrote this in a letter she left for me before she passed away. Every morning when I get my coffee, I read it. That’s why my photography is “different,” as some would say. I see more than just people that I photograph. My inspiration is not in capturing moments, it’s telling the whole story, because we all have a story.