Ever since I began studying photography and fell in love with the process of creating an image, I have held on to this idea that photographing for others (i.e. taking portraits) was in someway taking away from the "art" of photography. I thought that by doing so, meant I had to take bad photos of un-photographic subjects and force myself to sell them to people at outrageous prices just because I could. Why not? I mean thats what I see other people doing, right? I let my pride in being considered creative or an artist and someone who can call themselves a photographer blind me. Now, instead of doing something I'm passionate about, I struggle through a 40-hour week assembling other people's photographs. Out-of-focus, bad lighting, awkwardly posed photos all sold to people based on cheap gimmicks. Example: I know the photo I took of you is completely blurry but you can have it printed on glossy paper, wrapped around a canvas, with funky texture applied and just hang it on your ceiling and it will look great!! That'll be $900.
The fact that you even let your customer see and choose a bad photo says everything about you as a "photographer." I'm not saying I'm perfect and every photo I take is amazing or even in-focus but you'll never know...because you won't ever see it. Everybody makes mistakes but there is a difference between the people willing to sell you their mistakes just to make money off of you and the ones who aren't.
A few months back I actually persuaded someone who was willing to pay my session fee, by prints and wanted to book a session that same week to look for another photographer because photographing a family was not "really what I do".
Re-read that last sentence. I have multiple times.
Someone who had never seen any of my work offered me money to take photos of them and I turned it down.
I actually said, "taking portraits isn't something I really do." Hmm, thats funny. Then how did I win multiple awards for PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY when we were in Wyoming?
Oh that's right, that was for a newspaper where you only had 5-mins to photograph someone you never met or new anything about. Its not like you have time to plan a session where you get to spend time with people and get to know them and capture a real connection in their photos.
The real reason I said no to it was because what I heard was "will you take my money and take bad photos of us just so we can give you more money to have it printed on glossy paper, wrapped around a canvas, with funky texture applied so we can hang it on our ceiling?"
That is just something I'm never going to be willing to do.
...but the problem was not with what she was asking me to do, the problem was how I interpreted it. I honestly believed that making a living taking portraits meant that I was reduced to taking bad photographs.
I realize I have been looking at things the wrong way and ignoring what the people closest to me have been trying to get through my head for so long.
So, what now?
Now its time for me to start creating images that people are going to cherish. Memories that they will share with their children and grandchildren from a moment in the time-line of their story. That is what a photograph is to me and what it should be to others. Not a cheap gimmick. I want to dedicate the talent that I have spent years refining, to providing a service for people that they will always appreciate.
Here is my commitment:
I want people to know that they don't have to settle for bad photography.
I want to educate my clients on what steps they can take on their end to make sure their photos are exactly that, theirs.
I want to sit down and go through the images clients select and suggest what i think, based on my experience, what i think are the best ways to display their memories.
I want photography to regain the prestige it once had by providing beautiful work.
I may not always be the cheapest option but I will never, by my definition, sell out by providing bad work just to make a dollar.
Anyone interested can contact me below.
Thanks for reading guys and as always, take care of each other.