A Dime a Dozen
I’m writing this with very strong questions as to if I’ll actually ever post it. Because if I do, I want it to be real and honest, and for both of things to happen, I have to be really, really vulnerable. And I'm going to display some very early work, that just might have people running very far away. Try to stick with me for just a little bit...
I’m sure a lot of people saw my page pop up and thought "Oh great, another chick with a camera, who thinks she can be a photographer.” Well, that statement is both exactly 100% true and 100% untrue all at the same time. I am just another chick with a camera, but thinking of myself as a photographer is something I still can’t wrap my mind around. I mean, I question everyday whether my equipment is good enough, is my eye good enough, is my skill good enough, am I trained enough, what makes me think I can do this? What do I have to offer to compete with all of the amazing artists effortlessly providing the same things I’m promising. And, really, I can’t answer any of those. But I do want to be honest about my journey and what it took for me to get here…even though I’m not entirely sure where “here” is just yet.
I’ve been obsessed with pictures since I was in grade school. I was always the girl toting around a disposable camera, begging my mom to take me to one hour photo processing, and printing doubles and triples for all of my friends. My photo albums were treasured. My friends and I got really good at taking inconspicuous photos of boys we had crushes on…creepy, I know. But the point is…I’ve always loved being behind a camera and have always been crazy excited to see what it produced.
In high school I took a photography class that taught me the basics with a 35mm film SLR. I was fanatical about being in the dark room and getting the perfect black and white images. Learning the mechanics of the camera, manual settings, using light, and creating art. I was officially in love.
Then digital cameras became affordable and I got my first one when I was a freshman in college. It was a silver point and shoot that was in my purse at all times. I still had all of my pictures printed out and put into albums, which I’m pretty proud of because it became more and more rare in the digital age.
Smart phones. Suddenly no one had cameras anymore, everything was documented using an iPhone and I was just as guilty as everyone else. The convenience of it was amazing, but the art aspect was lost, at least for me. When my oldest daughter was born, I took over 1000 pictures of her during her first year of life. And every one of them was from my phone. Although I loved looking back on the moments, I craved photos that were frame worthy. I thought…these aren’t the pictures that she’s going to want when she grows up. She’s not going to want 1000 pictures of herself sitting on the playroom floor alone. She’ll want quality photos of moments with her cousins, and her daddy, and me. So I bought a DSLR and dedicated myself to re-learning everything and recapturing the art of photography that I missed. I finally figured out that 100 quality photos over the course of a year was better than 1000 sub-par ones.
(Taking my baby's one year old pictures and realizing my phone wasn't going to cut it for me anymore.)
I shot on auto as soon as it came out of the box, pop up flash and all, and was so disappointed at the result thinking I bought a lemon of a camera. It wasn’t the camera, it was the operator. The next day, I switched to manual and never looked back. At first, I only got one decent shot for about every 25 I took. But I sure did take pride in that one. I just kept learning, reading, and shooting. And I started to get better. My camera was with me everywhere. I shot everything. Then people started asking me to take photos of them. I remember not being able to sleep the night before I was going to take pictures for my sister and my nephew. My stomach was in knots and I was having major anxiety…I mean this was my sister! Who cares?? But I did. So much. I wanted to give her pictures that she would be amazed by. That she would post with pride and get great feedback from.
(The very first picture I ever took with my very first DSLR)
So this cycle went on for 3 years. Read, learn, shoot, repeat. I took more and more pictures for people, started investing in a nice lens collection and eventually upgraded my camera body. I heard from people all the time, “you should start doing this professionally.” And I would shrug it off and say, “it’s just for fun.” And it was. Being “professional” at it, scared the bajeezus out of me. I was terrified that I would be horrible at it, or that it wouldn’t be fun anymore, or the absolute worst case scenario---I would disappoint someone. So I pushed the idea out of my head as quickly as it entered. People started asking me to take pictures of some really big milestone things, and I craved being behind my camera more and more. So I prayed…a lot. I prayed for confidence, trust, timing, and clarity. And the more and more I prayed, the more and more I wanted it. I don’t ever put myself out there unless I’m 100% sure of what I’ll get back, so the risk for me putting my name on a photo (or even more scary, my girls’ names) was absolutely terrifying. But for first time in my life, I took a leap of faith, and my husband was there supporting my dream and listening to me ramble and worry and even cry. He would pour me a glass of wine and listen like he knew exactly what I talking about. He reassured me a thousand times. He believed in me and my vision. So I just did it. I like to think that it happened really organically. Something that just kept on progressing as I hope it always does, a little bit every single day.
(Our first posed photoshoot. The moment I fell in love with catch-light.)
This is God’s honest truth... I love taking photos and I love editing. I swear. I feel like the editing is just as much a part of the creative process as the shooting. It’s a huge time suck, it’s true, but I love it. It will be midnight, and I’ll make myself promise that I’m only editing for ten more minutes, but it never happens. I get so excited about each new image. I’ll pull all-nighters more often than not to get a session done and have the photos ready to deliver the next morning. I love maintaining my website and writing for my blog. I love watching webinars into the wee hours of the night and having "Ah ha" moments. I love every part of what has gone into this business. Maybe it has to do with being out of the corporate world for four years and finally putting my time, effort, heart, and soul into something that I’m genuinely passionate about.
(My first attempt at taking photos of a newborn. Straight up the nose...flattering, right? Luckily this was impromptu during a visit, and wasn't actually delivered to anyone. EEEsshhh...)
So what sets me apart from the thousands of other photographers in my immediate surrounding area? I really don’t know. All I know is that I don’t need your business; I really, truly want it. I have a husband that goes to work every day and works his tail off so that I can be home with our babies and keep this household running. We get to send our kids to an amazing preschool that wouldn’t be feasible for other working mommies’ schedules. I get to stay in sweatpants all day if I want to and run errands during the week, so that our weekends together are just for the fun stuff. Our livelihood doesn’t depend on how many shoots I schedule, so I don’t feel pressured to charge astronomical prices, herd in clients, and produce quick, work that doesn’t meet my standards just to have time for one more invoice for the week.
(My first, favorite candid.)
So here's my "sales pitch." I’m not trying to steal you away from your family photographer. I have my favorite, I’m very loyal to her, and will continue to be for as long as she shoots in our area. But maybe you don’t have one. Or maybe your’s is booked for months and you want a quick session before a birthday party or baby shower. I can be that back up. Or I can become your first call. I want to take pictures of new people, in new places. And then I want you to love those photos and call me back for more. I want you to find great value in my work and maybe even be surprised by it. I always show love in the detail, in every aspect of my life. I can promise that you won’t find anyone who is willing to work harder than I am.
My development plan is simple. Pray, learn, pray, shoot, pray, deliver, pray, repeat.