I started shooting portraits in 2009, after having spent years dedicating my time to strictly photographing music-related "stuff" (concerts, album covers, band promos, etc). I was a poor artist with no direction and certainly no money for a studio.
Luckily, my lack of funds forced me to get creative and to use the world around me. I had seen a photo of a theater in an abandoned asylum via an internet search, and was immediately enamored with the image. I was obsessed with finding the location, as it was like nothing I had ever seen before. I had no clue that places like that existed. That was the wonderful start of my marriage with "finding cool locations". But, admittedly, something was missing. Visually, my photos were ok. Not TOO terrible, but I was never truly proud or satisfied with them. To me, it just seemed like something wasn't clicking.
In 2011, my father passed away unexpectedly. The whole experience was gut-wrenching. Heartbreaking. I was extremely close to him (I was an only child) and I struggled tremendously to cope with what had happened. For years, I struggled. I hit some scary, scary lows. I remember thinking "Why go on when every day is just as miserable as the next?" People kept pushing therapy on me.
"You need help."
"You need therapy."
"You need medication."
But what I REALLY needed was to connect with my art. And I did.
The bittersweet thing is, the death of my father was the birth of my photography career. Suddenly, my photos displayed emotion. They displayed stories and purpose and a sense of beautiful dismay, which was a direct mirror of how I felt on the inside. I poured all of my feelings and struggles into my work. I learned how to control how I felt and funnel it all into my ideas. I finally learned how to make the connection between imagery and emotion, and for once in my life I was satisfied and proud with what I was creating.
More info: karenjerzykphoto.com