Why I Do What I Do …

I wanted to take a moment to write about what it is I do here and why it is I do it. I sometimes wonder if it’s lost on others why it is photographers photograph. And sometimes I think it may be therapeutic for me just to write it out anyway.

Recently I worked for a client photographing in a medium I don’t typically photograph. I was a little out of my comfort zone but because I had known this person for some time and I’m always up for trying new things, I thought I would give it a try. The one thing that made me the most worried about the gig was that I was going to be doing a lot of work inside and at night and I’m a photographer that works primarily with natural light. So in an effort not to ruin the photographs of the client, I studied up on lighting and I purchased a pretty sweet (translation – not cheap) flash for my camera.

Soon it came time for the gig. In an effort to make sure that I was able to capture all the moments the client wanted to capture, I even went to the client’s venue the night before the big event so that I would be as comfortable as possible with my new flash and so that I would have an idea as to what I would be working with. It took only an extra hour of my time (minus travel, etc.) and it was well worth the trip …

I’m always nervous just before I arrive to meet a client to take photographs. When I’m photographing strangers, it’s always cause for a few butterflies. In the end the event went off without a hitch and when I had a chance to get home and look over the photos I took at the event and the reception (overall, 5 hours worth of photographing) I was pleased with most of the pictures I was able to capture. It seemed I was able to get the most important moments, and that made me happy.

Because I knew my client from long ago, I wasn’t a real stickler on payment and in the back of my mind I thought – will this come back to bite me in the ass? But I didn’t really think it would. The client seemed pleased with my work and I thought it was understood that payment should be forthcoming.

I’m not writing this to bad mouth my client – I promise. What I am doing is writing this to explain why it is I do what I do … I photograph not to earn a living (unfortunately). I photograph for the love of it. I photograph because I love capturing the happiness and expressions of people – usually when they least expect it. I photograph because life moves so quickly and sometimes it’s moving so quickly that we can forget those little moments that happen – unless we see a picture that may have captured that moment perfectly. So when you’re considering hiring a photographer – whether it be for a wedding, a family portrait, a first day of school, a birthday party, a special occasion, or for whatever moment you’re hoping to capture, please keep in mind that the photographer you’re hiring – and I’d love for it to be ME!! – isn’t there to overcharge you and put you in debt … but instead they’re charging you just for their time. Because the chances are they’re taking the time away from their loved ones, from a first soccer practice, from a dinner table discussion, from any little thing that they normally wouldn’t be missing – to spend it with you and your loved ones. And they may even be working toward paying back that flash they bought for the occasion.

I photograph because I love capturing the moments in life that matter. Sometimes when I’m not compensated for the hard work that goes into that work, it makes me not want to work toward that passion anymore … and is there anything sadder than walking away from something about which you’re passionate??

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Photographing Facebook – Stephanie and Jody

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Stephanie and Jody were both co-workers of mine. Jody left my office in 2005 when she was about to have her first child; Stephanie left in 2006 to move to another State agency. Let’s see how much has changed since then –

Jody now has 4 children – three girls, one boy – and is still a stay-at-home mom. This amazes me. Stephanie left the Division of State Documents – the agency she left Legislative Editing to join – after 1 year and now works for a federal contractor as an editor (I think). She has one daughter – Shannon – who will be 8 in a week. My, how time flies. 

Jody and Stephanie and I make it a point to get together whenever time allows to have dinner – just the three of us, no babies, no husbands, no other distractions. It is no doubt that we annoy the hell out of the servers who wait on us because it always takes us a good 30 minutes before we have even opened up the menus after we first sit down. Typically there is a good span of time between meetings, so we have a lot of catching up to do. It’s always fun to hear what each child is up to – and reassuring to know that it’s not only my child who is doing the weird stuff.

ImageStephanie is a single mother who has raised her child, for the most part, on her own. This amazes me. As a single mother she has managed to buy a home and pay her bills while taking good care of her child. This is something I could not accomplish by myself for myself, much less for me and another person. Her strength is amazing.

ImageJody and I were pregnant during the same time period. Of course, this isn’t something you would have known – either by looking at us or by listening to us. I was, per my usual style, as big as a house. Jody – as anyone who knows her can imagine – didn’t look pregnant until she was about 2 weeks from birth. I, of course, complained nonstop; Jody, naturally, dealt with the pregnancy like nothing unusual was happening to her body. She is, what I like to call, a baby machine.

Her third child, Bennett (the only boy!) had severe food allergies that limited his diet to only breast milk. The sacrifices Jody made for this child in her own diet were sacrifices I’d like to think I would make, but I just don’t know. Whatever she ate affected his body. So she couldn’t eat most of what she liked for quite some time. That’s love and devotion. 

Our dinner dates are nothing less than giggles, dessert, and catching up. Each of us has experienced tragedy, each of us has experienced triumphs, and each of us has a funny story to tell – typically about our children. And when we get together for dinner, we listen, we laugh, we comfort, we hug, and then we say good bye. And though it may be another 12 months before we see each other again, we know that it will be the same dinner date as the last – laughter, dessert, conversation, and happiness. And it’s hoped that it continues for many, many, MANY years to come. 

Going in a New Direction

I’ve realized in my short time “working” with my camera that photographing people and then handing over my photographs to them is not what I want to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE taking pictures of people. I love taking pictures FOR people. But I am, by nature, a journalist, I guess. And I have discovered that when I take pictures, I also want to tell a story. And taking pictures of friends/families for their friends/families doesn’t always allow me to do this.

I see a lot of things in this world and I meet a lot of interesting people. And I’ve always been amazed at the stories they have to tell. But sometimes it takes asking just a few questions to hear what it is they want to say … sometimes the people they’ve met make them the most interesting. Sometimes their careers make them the most interesting. But sometimes, just taking their picture when they’re least expecting it is what makes them the most interesting. And the most beautiful. And those are the moments that this photographer wants to capture.

So until then I’m going to keep taking pictures. And I would love to take pictures of anyone who wants their pictures taken. But soon I’m going to embark on another adventure, down a different road. And this blog may have a different appearance, but it will still include my photographs; it will still include my words. It will contain more of a story, though.

Because pictures really do paint, at the very least, 1,000 words. And I want to try to capture all of them.Image

Hooray! Session is here!!

Well, it’s not really that exciting. But it’s certainly worth having cake!

Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman!

... because I'm not allowed to take pictures of Peri.

… because I’m not allowed to take pictures of Peri.

William? Working?

William? Working?

There's cake??

There’s cake??

There's cake!

There’s cake!

The circus is in town!

The circus is in town!

The only peace and quiet Susanne could find

The only peace and quiet Susanne could find

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Where's all the work?? (I know I'm going to regret being this sarcastic.)

Where’s all the work?? (I know I’m going to regret being this sarcastic.)