Personal | The Journey to Kir2Ben

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I am an average twenty something girl living in Northern Virginia. I like Netflix, I sometimes drink too much wine and I wake up every day to put one yoga pant leg on at a time, but this year is different. This is the year I take a chance on passion, on determination and on myself. 2016 is the year I turn from amateur to professional, timid to fearless and, as chance would have it, Ms. To Mrs. Here is the story that led to this moment.

High School

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I have always been “that friend” that takes pictures. Ever since the Motorola RZR had a camera on it, I was taking pictures. Most of my close friends are convinced that I single handedly invented the selfie. If Webshots was still relevant, I would happily link you to all my emo self-taken photo shoots.

College

Much to my surprise, Duke graciously allowed me to attend their institution. I was 17 when I got hooked on my first dark room class. Learning how a camera manually works and how film is developed is, to me, arguably the most artistic part of photography.

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After realizing I would probably be too poor to ever afford a dark room and all the chemicals that it requires, I surrendered to digital. In my four years at Duke, I have forced nearly all of my swim teammates to take part in countless projects. They are amazing models and even better friends. My projects ranged from kitsch portraiture to documentary stories. When all was said and done, I graduated with a degree in Media Studies, minoring in Photography and Documentary Studies.

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During my Duke summers, I gradually fell in love with photography as I went abroad. I first traveled to Vietnam to teach soccer and health. The experience not only changed me as a person but also allowed me to capture a foreign world through a lens.

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I became hooked on photography but I was also in love with service. This experience propelled me to spend a summer in Tanzania with Literacy Through Photography. I worked in schools around Arusha and stayed in the most amazing homestay (shout out to homestay dad and forever pen pal Baba Julius).

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I became super excited about photography and decided to intern at the VH1 Photo Department. Much to my surprise, it was not the experience I anticipated. I wasn’t shooting Lil’ Wayne and becoming best friends with Adele. In fact, most of what I was doing was archiving and editing. Was this the way to make money doing what I loved?

The Real World

Slightly disheartened after this internship, I joined the Teach for America movement. I never pictured myself as a teacher but my resume seemed to be built around teaching. I enjoyed my time serving abroad; I saw the most logical step to serve right here at home. My time teaching Special Education in the District of Columbia Public School system was… something. My emotions ranged from hysteria, to anger, then to joy and elation and sometimes even rage. It is a deeply profound experience I wish to never have again.

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After TFA, I fell into a tutoring job with a small start up called Top Score Education. I work one on one with kids helping them beat these silly standardized tests we force upon them. I love the freedom my job allows and I still feel like I am giving back by helping kids get into their dream colleges. However, as I walk further down the path of teaching the voice in the back of my head keeps getting more pronounced. It’s annoying really. This year I have learned if you don’t give in to your gut, it will consume you.

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So this is me, giving in!

Now open for business: Kir2Ben.