Awesome, inspiring, and empowering women.

I know, it’s a bit of a departure from Beyoncé’s lyrics, but I felt like it was fitting for International Women’s Day. I’m very lucky to have several inspiring women in my life. And when I remembered what that today was International Women’s Day 2018, I definitely thought about all of them. However, today, I wanted to recognize the amazing woman who has influenced my learning and artistic growth the most over the past three years: Candice Ilia.

When I originally went off to college, I majored in fine art, and later switched to photography. Art school was amazing and I definitely learned a lot. But when we moved to New Mexico, I was without my artistic community. I didn’t have that group of creative minds who helped keep me accountable and inspired. I worked hard on my craft, but it’s much harder to grow alone, without any outside help or critiquing. It was incredibly isolating.

But when I met Candice, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Not only is she an incredibly talented photographer, but she is an amazing mentor as well. She totally appreciates how each photographer can interpret a subject differently, in their own unique way. She sees the different perspectives as a positive, a way to inspire each other’s growth.

Candice is a leader by example. She is an expert in her craft, but always striving for more. She is always learning as much as she can, trying out new techniques or gear, and pushing herself out of her own comfort zone. And her genuine enthusiasm for growth and learning is so contagious that you just can’t help but be inspired and excited too.

And she has this magical way of empowering anyone she comes across. I’ve seen her influence in myself, other local creatives, and in her own wonderful daughters. Even her approach to photography, is empowering. She always strives to invoke confidence in her subjects, so it comes across in the images. So they can see just how awesome they are, too.

Honestly, I could go on for days and days about Candice. I’ve learned so so much from her. She’s taught me more about lighting, posing subjects, building a relationship with subjects, new composition tactics, planning and building a styled shoot, medium format film photography, printed products, the importance of albums and books, the business aspect of photography, and still so much more. I can easily say that I’ve learned more about photography from Candice, than any other one person.

My friend, your friendship and mentoring has meant more to me than I could ever say. I truly believe I would not be where I am today without your encouragement and influence. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to work with and learn from you over the past few years. It’s been an amazing, fun adventure, and I can’t wait to see where the next few take us.