I’d planned on penning a July 5th post with this year’s fireworks. Unfortunately, this happened. But all is not lost. July is starting off nicely. I’ve done my first senior photo shoot (See Austin above), and am hoping to get more soon. Beatrice has been busy networking. I’ve been taking pictures like crazy, just keeping my eye and my skills sharp. But I’ve also had time to reflect on some lessons that I’ve learned along the way of this journey into professional photography. Some of this requires that I go over territory already covered, but that’s probably ok. I like re-exploring the past to see if re-evaluation might turn up new discoveries—it generally does.
I did a Mother’s Day shoot at a local daycare. I got to photograph over 200 kids. What an opportunity. These kids were amazingly beautiful, and perfect subjects. With every click of the shutter, I could hear a Kuh-ching in the back of my mind. Easy money, I thought. But here are the lessons:
1. Kids always have boogers. You wipe them, you have them blow their noses, you do everything you can to make sure you’ve got a clean starting image. But, when you get home and you plug that upload cable into your computer, something magical happens. Boogers suddenly appear in every dark round nostril.
It’s an interesting week of editing when you get to know boogers at this intimate level. And if you are a person prone to science like I am, the inevitable happens. You see so many boogers that you begin to catalogue, categorize, and label them. You begin to note the subtle distinctions in yellows and greens, and this leads to so many theories and hypothesis on the variations of color and the significance of these color variations upon toddler health. It was a rough week, and I still have nightmares in green.
2. People really don’t want to pay for pictures. In fact, I have heard that they’ll do almost anything to prevent this from happening. From taking pictures of the television set upon which their child’s photograph is randomly displayed (waiting patiently with fingers on the volume control of their iPhones), to attempting to get prints from very low resolution screen shots. There are so many warnings out there about watermarking one’s photographs, that it feels like we may as well hang up our cameras and get jobs as security guards instead.
From that daycare photo shoot, with over 200 kids photographed, about 60 parents placed orders. These weren’t your typical daycare pictures, mind you, but very nicely done, natural light pictures of kids being kids in their natural environment—the kind of pictures we spend really good money on maybe once or twice in a lifetime (for many of us, anyway). The prices were reasonable. So, Beatrice and I are spending many hours trying to figure out what kept the rest of the parents from ordering…and anyone who wants to help us understand this is more than welcome to leave us a comment with your ideas. We really want to know how we could have gotten more orders.
3. Everyone is a photographer. Everywhere we go, we hear the same tune. “Oh, my uncle, niece, brother, father, mother, and aunt are photographers.” Makes us feel very small in a very large pond. But, we know what that really means. It simply means that technology has advanced far enough in the field of photography that taking pictures seems easier than ever to most people. So, there are few inhibitions to picking up a camera, getting a few decent shots, and suddenly believing and declaring that one has what it takes to go pro. I highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to go this route.
Below you will find a picture of my daughter, Alison. I didn’t use any fancy new camera to take the picture. I didn’t use an iPhone or iPad, and I didn’t use any fancy App downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play. Rather, I used my trusty DSLR, pulled out an appropriate lens. Put my settings to manual. I read the light to determine an appropriate exposure. I moved my camera and my body until I found a way to frame the shot so that it was interesting to me, and felt a bit more dynamic than a simple snapshot. I kept in mind the rule of thirds (though sometimes I will rely on the golden ratio). It took a little skill, but I love the shot. She looks beautiful to me. I captured her exactly as I see her day in and day out with the eyes of my heart. What is the skill to do such a thing worth?
Alison in Riverside, Ca. | Editing consisting of slight contrast adjustment.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far, as I venture off into this strange land of professional photography is this: The thing that drew me to photography is what will keep me in it, whether I end up making money or not. I realized a long time ago that there is something exciting and eternal about capturing images from one’s lifetime. I am not a photographer, really. When you think about it, what you realize is that photographers are more like the writers of books and the keepers of law. We are historians more than anything else. We capture moments in time that will never be seen again, and we give these to posterity for judgement, for solace, for simple reminiscence, and when needed, for courage.