I was asked to write this for a sidebar about an article featuring the book "Triumph from Tragedy." Little did I know that they would publish it in the "Your Voice" section of the paper...
Originally published in The Alabama Baptist newspaper's "Your Voice" on Feb 17, 2022:
"TAB Photographer, Writer Shares How God Opened Doors of Opportunity"
By Tracy Riggs
Freelance photographer and writer
Growing up, I had two far-fetched dreams: to be a professional photographer and a published author. However, I wasn’t a risk-taker and pursued a teaching career instead.
While in college, I shot some weddings. I was paid, so technically I was a “professional,” but I felt like a fraud. I had no formal training and didn’t have “professional” equipment.
Later, as a single parent with a full-time job, I gave up photography work. I took photos of my family and penned long-winded journal entries, but I had no faith that my dreams would ever materialize.
Unbelievably, years later I found myself in a place in life where I could try to pursue full-time photography.
At first paid jobs were rare, so I got a part-time job as a receptionist at a salon. The owner suggested taking photos of prom girls getting makeup and hair done and making them available to their parents.
I advertised through a display of my work. Though I never sold any of those images, God had another plan in mind.
One afternoon TAB Media President and Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Davis Rash came to the shop. While scheduling her next appointment, she noticed the display and said she needed a local photographer. Though extremely excited, I kept my composure and replied that I’d love to be considered.
Five months went by before I heard back from her. Was I still interested? Was I available? I quickly said yes to both.
That first shoot for TAB was nerve-racking. After detailed editing, I submitted the images and held my breath. That first assignment led to photographing the Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference and Alabama Baptist State Convention that year.
Four months later I asked if we could cover the “Not Alone Conference.” Focused on breaking down the stigma of mental health concerns in the church, I was passionate about this topic as I personally dealt with these issues.
The answer was yes, but there wasn’t a reporter available. I was asked to take notes, so someone else could write an article. But again, God had other plans.
Attending the conference ignited my passion for the topic. I summoned every bit of courage I had and asked about writing the articles myself. To my surprise, I got a green light.
I applaud TAB Media’s content editor, Carrie McWhorter, for her extreme patience. I fumbled around while learning the journalistic style of writing. But with each new assignment, I gained experience and saw improvement in my skills.
Since then, I’ve interviewed nationally known Christian performers, done some event reporting and written research-based articles.
But even after having my byline on numerous articles, part of me felt I still wasn’t an “author” because I hadn’t published a book.
I discovered Christian Writers for Life through a workshop called “The Writing Minister,” sponsored by TAB Media and taught by the group’s founder, Denise George.
When the group held a contest to be included in a published essay collection, I gathered my courage and entered.
In my heart, I still thought being published at all would be a fluke. I was completely amazed when my story was chosen.
"Triumph from Tragedy” doesn’t have my name on the cover, but it’s still a dream come true. God carved out a path I couldn’t have ever imagined to fulfill 35-year-long desires, even though I had no faith.
I’m so humbled now to see what He has done.
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