What is your why? Professional Photographer Conundrums.
Professional Photography in Saratoga NY is pretty competitive. We have many talented photographers here. So it is easy to lose site of “why” you do something in the day-to-day hamster wheel of running a business.
As a Professional Photographer of Weddings and Portraits, I know at my core that the “Why” of what I do is that I essentially capture lightning in a bottle. I think one of the most cliched sayings about what I do is the Cartier-Bresson quote about capturing “the decisive moment,” but like all cliches, it does ring true.
I grew up going to museums as a kid. My favorite was always the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. I was always interested in the Portraits and the Religious Art of the Renaissance. After High School I attended SUNY Purchase and the Fashion Institute of Technology. I worked for a time in the Garment Industry. Then I worked for a Commercial Real Estate Company.
After I got married, had a baby and moved Upstate, I was looking for something to do for work that did not involve daycare for my kid. There was an ad in a local paper for a Photography Studio looking for people to do Senior Portraits and Weddings. The only requirement was that you know how to use a 35 mm camera. No problem! I could do that! I took the job as a part time gig, never thinking it would lead to much. But I loved it! I really loved meeting new people and drawing out and capturing their personalities. I learned how to use studio lights and medium format cameras. There was always something new to learn.
It was around that time that there was a move in the Wedding Photography Industry toward Photojournalism and a more casual feel in images pioneered by Dennis Reggie. Yes, I am that old. I really loved the idea of this–especially since the majority of the images from my own wedding, while adequate, were pretty posed and there were virtually no candid photos, detail shots, etc. I felt like my wedding had so many things going on that I did not get to see and would never get to see because the photographer never shot them. To be clear, that was not due to any fault on the photographer’s part–it simply was not a “thing” then.
At that time I also began taking classes and seminars offered by PPA. My first was with the legendary Monte Zucker. Monte changed my life and the way I looked at what I was providing for clients. He impressed upon me that my photographs would live on longer than the people in them and as such they were important to families. This was the beginning of the “why” for me. I took his class again the following year because there was so much information to digest the first time. Posing, Lighting, getting it right before pressing the shutter button–these are all an ongoing learning process truly that began for me with his classes.
For the first ten years of my career as a Professional Photographer, I worked for other studios. I did this mostly because I had little kids, and I knew I did not have the necessary time to devote to starting a business. I have always believed that whatever you do, you should do it to the best of your ability. I did not feel that at that particular time in my life I could devote adequate time to both being a mom and running a business. I knew that for me personally I would have to make sacrifices to the quality of time I gave to either my kids or my clients, and I did not want to feel like I had to make those choices. I think it is both a fallacy and a disservice to women to pretend that we can be all things to all people. I had the opportunity to learn my craft and learn the business of Photography while working part time. I am truly grateful that I had that luxury. When I started my own studio, I had a pretty solid foundation of not only camera basics, but how much I needed to charge to stay in business and to make money for my family.
All of this brings me to the “why.” Why photograph Weddings and Portraits? I have found over the years that time is a tricky thing. There is a saying that when you have small children the days are long but the years are short. You are so busy in the minutiae of caring for your family, but the kids grow up before you know it. I have personally found that some things are best remembered with a visual prompt–facial expressions, little quirks, etc. I like the idea that I am capturing a moment in time for my clients to look back on. I like the idea that when I photograph a wedding, that I am creating memories for my clients to look back on fondly. I have some old family photos–my parents as kids, my maternal grandparents’ wedding image, etc. How much are they worth? They are priceless. That is the “why.”
Are you ready to talk about photographing your family or wedding? I would love to talk. Use the Contact Form or call me at (518) 584-4237.
Be sure to check out the Photography Portfolios as well. I would love to photograph you.