My name is Joe Lemke. I'm assuming you probably got that much out of the title of my website, but just in case... It wasn't JUST a clever name ha ha!
I love photography. Not everything about it. I respect it all and everything but what I am really into is PEOPLE. People are what made me want to pursue photography for a living.
I started selling cameras at Best Buy when I was in high school and fell in love with them. I ended up buying my first camera when I was 17 and started taking pictures of everything! I even got hired by a company to photograph real estate and to do 360 degree virtual tours. Boring.
One day during June of 2006 in my senior year of high school I was hanging out with a two friends of mine. One friend in particular went by the name of Deanna. Deanna had a bubbly, giddy personality. I took a picture of Deanna when I had asked her something that made her laugh and she threw up her arms like, I don't know?!? This picture captured Deanna completely. It was an ah-ha moment for me. The next part of this story gets a little sad, but it is important in understanding my passion for photography.
October of that same year came and I received some terrible news about my friend Deanna. A drunk driver had killed her on her way home from work. I was pretty devastated and I wanted to do something nice for her mom, Catherine and her family. I knew I could't do a whole lot to make a situation like that better but I knew I had this awesome photo of her daughter that she and her family probably hadn't seen. I sent the picture to Wal-Mart to be blown up to 8x10 and printed, along with another picture I had of her.
I had never met Deanna's mom and was nervous to see her at the wake. When I finally got to meet her after waiting in the large line of people who came to give their support, I introduced myself. I told her I had a couple of pictures that I thought she might like to have. When I showed her the photos I saw her give a genuine smile and she thanked me. It was as big of a smile as any mother who had just gone through this could give. She told me that she hadn't had any recent photos of Deanna except her sophomore school picture. She said that's Deanna!!
Two weeks later Deanna's mom found my number and called me to tell me the pictures that I gave her meant so much to her. She said I had captured her daughter's personality, completely, in one image. She said that the picture had helped her family deal with their loss and that it and cheered them up greatly.
A few days after that Deanna's grandma called me. I had never met her but she got my phone number through Catherine. She also called to thank me and tell me how much the image meant and asked me if I would be able to email the image to the cemetery. Her family had decided that they wanted the image of Deanna that captured her personality, on her headstone. I couldn't think of any better way to honor a friend. I was completely humbled. The image is now in a round frame on top of her headstone and will always be there with her.
When I realized how much one image of one little moment in a person's life could affect and help so many people, I fell in love with portraiture. I started taking photographs of all of my friends. I always tried to bring my camera to every family function. The thought that I can possibly get a picture of someone that had their ENTIRE personality in one image still makes me excited and inspired. Photographs are important. At the end of the day, sometimes that's all we have left.
I love people and I love getting to know them. I love watching them interact with the people they love. I love capturing lives and moments and especially what happens in between big moments.
This is why I am a photographer and this is why I LOVE my job.