I remember the first time, in more recent years, that I told someone I was a professional photographer.
I was at preschool pickup and someone mentioned something, just something, that reminded me of photography. They may have been talking about clients or phases of the moon or jellybeans. I have no idea. I just know that somehow it was relatable to say, “Yup. I’m a professional photographer and that happens to me.” What did she do? She smiled and nodded at what I said. She didn’t point and laugh or roll her eyes, or say, “You? You’re not a professional photographer! How could you be one?” It turns out, that most (or all) of the mean voices are lodged firmly in my head. And me being a professional..anything…is believable.
That felt good to discover. Really good.
These days, it’s easier. I talk about my experiences. I hand out my business cards. I get a lot of jobs through word-of-mouth. Through others’ words, or through my very own. I promote, although probably more humbly and not as assertively as I could and should. I can’t change everything overnight. I also cannot handle too much workflow – with the family, the blogging and the occasional data entry, which is not usually such a thing but it happens to be a huge anvil over my head right now. I have my own wacky process, and I see it developing every day. Often I am paralyzed by fright, until I’m not. Until it’s a fluid motion, more natural than most things I know. It can be as natural as parenting and writing, to be honest. When it’s good, it’s really good.
When it’s not working, well, I try again another day.
Do you remember my post about My Writing Process from a couple of weeks ago? I thought it would be fun and educational (for me or you? probably me!) to do the same post with the same questions, but to write about photography instead of writing.
And here I go. Wheeeeee!:
1. What am I working on?
I’ll keep this photography based, because why on earth would you want to hear me wax poetic about data entry, writing and puppy-wrangling? So I just finished up my sister’s engagement photos but I may tweak some here and there, based on her favorites, because I want them to be PERFECT. I’m working on a real estate job because I want more jobs than only portrait sessions, but I’m not quite ready for wedding insanity. Artistically, yes. Weddings, births, HUGE life events – that’s where I want to be at for my own work. I also love smaller jobs and moments. And I need to catch up on weeks’ worth of my personal photos.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Photography has a sure voice, just the way writing does. I read something positive at Click It Up a Notch in which they said that NO ONE can shoot the way you do. Someone can copy your camera, your lens, your style and your angles, and it won’t look the same. The light changes, after all, and so do visions. So my work shows my vision in a way that no one else can show because they’re not me. I’d like to believe that my work has a lot of smooth edges, for the professional side of things, but that you can still see that rougher edge sometimes. I have a lot of rough edges. I find my photography to be a study of the emotions of others, almost as surely as I find my writing to be a study of the emotions of myself. Sometimes those things overlap.
I also would love to be known for photos of sci-fi events and moose.
3. Why do I photograph what I do?
It’s because sometimes people pay me to do so! And I just have a lot of ideas in my head and I want you to see the way I see the world. I want things to be really special for everyone I photograph – I think there’s a great power with photographs and memories. We all have these wild and precious lives, after all. I can’t be 100% present with my life, and I can’t be photographing 100% of my life. However there is an urge there I wouldn’t fight. If my hands are at my sides during an afternoon, there’s a reason for that. If my hands are wrapped around my camera instead, there sure as heck is a reason for that too.
4. How does my photography process work?
I don’t get as nervous as how the job is financially. I get as nervous as how the job is in other aspects. How far and wide these photos will be seen. How needed they are. How important they are to the client and/or loved one. I have walked into $1,200 jobs with less nerves than I have when photographing family members for free as gifts. In the days, or even minutes and hours leading up to a shoot, I will prepare myself with more than enough equipment and all batteries will be charged beforehand. I will ask around if I’m in charge of location and timing, and I will sometimes panic and ask other photographers when I’m feeling lost. I usually blast some loud music on my way to a shoot. I will gaze at the changing sky. I will look for inspiration everywhere.
When I’m there, I never know how it will go. I think before EACH shoot that I’m not sure how it will happen, but I’m gaining confidence that it WILL happen. It always does. Inspiration always takes over, and should it ever somehow not, I have poses and backup plans and more backup plans in my mental arsenal. So it’s small parts technique, and lots part heart.
I take each job seriously, no matter the payment involved, if it’s a serious job. Meaning, if the photos will be used in special ways – websites, brochures, invitations, and even just on the walls of family homes. I may be more relaxed with a client if I know them well, but I’m still all about business. There’s a different way I shoot when it’s just casually. I can take breaks. I can do other things. Not so during a professional shoot. I’m 100% your photographer, when I’m your photographer.
What is your photography process like?