In the final weeks of the pre-holiday photoshoot season I am discovering many new emotions brought to me by my work. One is predominant: the sense of impending creative liberation.
I have always maintained that photography is the artistic substitute I need in order to stay sane and satisfied in my expression while I am too busy to focus on writing. This is true, but I also take photos simply because I love it.
I love the act of it, I love the format, I love the idea of it. Photography evokes emotion and thought in a purely visual way, and while people interpret an image subjectively, it is a medium that allows me to be very specific and straightforward.
I find enormous pleasure in looking through a viewfinder and seeing the world in a frame - little vignettes of life that I see, capture, and celebrate. A picture almost never comes out the way I see it, but it is always close enough to provide for a great source of pride. I found this moment, I appreciated its aesthetics, I composed it within my frame, I preserved it, I processed it, and I shared it with everyone. It's awesome!
The tools of photography are also something I value and cherish. I work with light and shadows, with dimensions and space, with focus and blur, and most importantly- with people. Bringing out what's inside of people in their eyes, in their body language, in their disposition is a lovely feeling. And the best part is when I manage to photograph people when they are not posing, when they are being themselves. I love how much more social and inclusive photography is than writing for me.
I have taken all sorts of pictures. Candids, landscapes, still life, self-portraits, photos of products, event photos, photos of kids and babies and expecting moms and families and pets. I've been to countless parties and celebrations, a few weddings and sports events. I've done impromptu sessions, street photography, long exposures, light painting, free lensing, macro and telephoto shots of the moon. I've done photo journalism at protests and snapped my own children as they casually played. I've done a 365 project and an A-Z project, and I've planned shots for weeks only to miss my chance...or whipped my camera out in the last second to capture the perfect shot.
I have shot on analog cameras, medium format cameras, range finders; I've used digital cameras, point and shoots, instant film cameras, phone cameras, waterproof cameras. The only thing I haven't done much of is working with strobes and studio gear, or video. I've had so much fun trying Canons and Nikons and Leicas and whatever else I had the chance to put my hands on.
I look at old photos from 4-5 years ago and I can see how much better I've become. I open my social media pages and I see how many of my friends have profile photos I've taken. I get cards for the holidays with family portraits I've done. I have had exhibitions and have been published in print and featured online numerous times. And I managed to build a small business thanks to referrals and a word of mouth that thrives and brings not just satisfaction but also financial independence.
Still, the kind of photography I crave and strive to do is purely artistic and free. The best time I've had at photoshoots has always been when I've done it as a treat, pro bono. My charity work made me super happy, and giving friends photos as a gift is just fantastic. I think it's because I then feel free to do my best without expectations - people always want to look good, paying customers or not, but those who let me improvise and let my creativity run wild are always happier with the result. It's not that I don't perform well under pressure, but maybe I am more confident in my ability when I am allowed to be braver, more loose, casual, and more me when I work with people, not for them.
I'm far from believing that my work is beyond reproach. I have my weaknesses. I'm not a technical photographer, being self-taught, and I tend to be a lens-wide-open junkie. But I honestly try to seek the best angle, the best light, the most interesting moment, the prettiest expression. I hope to get better as I go forward and to be able to challenge myself even more.
In the new year I'll be focusing on my writing and I am putting the standard family photography on indefinite hold. This genre was a great way for me to learn the trade - not just the art of it, but the business side.
If I do family shoots in the future, I plan on polishing my practices so that the process is as smooth and professional as possible, i.e. I will offer a written contract as opposed to the verbal/email agreements that I counted on so far. A recent experience taught me that I take people for their word and in good faith, which doesn't always work out. The goal is to be very upfront about what kind of work I do and what the client will get for their money, so once this is out of the way we can all focus on having a great time resulting in great photos.
And the kind of work I want to do from now on is indeed this: casual, artistic, unique. If you are willing to take a risk and do something different for your family portraits, then I'm on board. No more posing in line at a park, or forced smiles. Let's just get together, relax, and do our thing. I'll be working my camera while you talk, have a drink, wash your car, play with your kids, hang out, do your make up, cook, work on your computer. I'll capture you being you.
There are better photographers than me, who are specialized in a certain genre or have fancier gear, charge a lot and offer proofs on their super modern portfolios. You absolutely have to try different services to see what fits you. There's not one type of picture that is considered the perfect picture by everyone.
But if you are looking for your friendly local art photographer who will take you as you are and try her very best to bring out your true character, I'm your gal.
Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to call me - we won't have a photoshoot. We will have an experience together!