Whenever I tell people that I’m a photographer, it never fails. People always say, “Oh you must have a TON of cute pictures of your little boy!” I always laugh and make some corny joke.
But the truth is…. I don’t.
Just fair warning, this post may be a bit word-heavy. And by “a bit” I mean “a bunch.” If you’re not into reading what’s been going through my thought process in recent months, no hard feelings. Really :). But I’ve got to get this off my chest.
So, I’ve always believed in continuing education, whatever the profession may be, and as a photographer, I’ve made an effort to attend at least one or two conferences or workshops each year focusing on honing my skills as a wedding photographer and refining my craft. I’ve always been kind of an uber-fan of Jonathan Canlas’ work, and of course I bought his book and have constantly marveled at his genius on his blog. He holds this workshop several times a year called Film is Not Dead (or FIND), and I had tried unsuccessfully for over a year to get into one of his FIND workshops. I surely had to be quite annoying to him, but I was constantly emailing him to see if any seats had opened up for 2012 in a midwest -ish area when finally -FINALLY- there was a seat that had opened up. Sure, it was halfway across the country during a time of year when I’d have to travel without my husband and right smack dab in the middle of wedding season, but the opportunity was just too good to pass up.
So I booked my travel, paid my tuition, and made sure I had plenty of film for my Contax.
I figured we’d be learning about how to shoot film more technically accurate and maybe exploring techniques for creating better portraits, and we certainly did cover those topics and a host of many others, but that’s a post for another day.
As I sat at dinner that first night, I listened to Jonathan talk about all the fun things he had been shooting. And he wasn’t getting paid for most of them. He was shooting personal work for the pure joy of it.
And I started wondering why I never I do that.
Really, it’s quite a shame. I pack up all my camera gear every weekend and shoot weddings for clients I adore. And I really do mean that when I say it. I adore my clients. I really really do. And I honestly love being able to tell their story through photography. But when the wedding day is over, I pack my gear back up, put it safely away in the closet, and don’t touch it again until I bring it back out for the next weekend’s wedding. I use my phone to take the occasional photo of my family, friends, or food, but other than that, my cameras don’t make an appearance in my real life.
And while I sat there at dinner, just pushing around pieces of lettuce on my plate (which if you know me at all means there MUST be something on my mind), I started to become very dissatisfied that this was the way I was living.
As the workshop went on, I spent the bulk of my time thinking about that place in my closet that my camera occupies for the most part of the week. And why. Why on earth do I not pick up a camera every chance I get? Why has this profession that I love become totally separate from the rest of my life? How can I spend the entire weekend documenting someone else’s life when I hardly take the time to record my own? I came up with lots of reasons. Or excuses, maybe. But regardless, I spent a lot of time pondering, and came to several possible conclusions. I thought of everything from “I don’t want to always be annoying people by asking them to stop so I can take a photo” to “I’m just downright nervous.”
But quite frankly, I think the biggest reason that I don’t ever take photos of anything personal is that I spend most of the year so overwhelmingly overcommitted that I don’t have a free second to breathe. And that’s the real problem.
So, I was inspired at FIND to make some real and dramatic changes to the way I run my business. I had a conversation with Jonathan that lasted maybe five or ten minutes, but for me, it was path-altering moment of clarity that made me really really want to always have my camera within arms reach. Not so that I can be more profitable or shoot more weddings or make more money. But so that I can catch my breath and smile and photograph the things that I’ve been wanting to photograph. Just for the pure joy of it.
It’s been a few months since I was at FIND, and I have to say, slowing down has made me come alive. I’ve had a chance to get creative just because I enjoy creating and it’s amazing how happy that’s made me. Even though I love my digital camera, I’ve often chosen to bring my clunky medium-format film camera with me to family outings, and I love how it’s made me slow down. Taking time to focus, compose, direct, load film… it all matters because every click is one photo in the roll (and costs me money every time I press that shutter!). I used to think that film was just a thing of the past… or maybe just something that hipsters were taking a liking to as the new fad… but really, film is magic. Because it sure has brought me back to life.
So, that’s a lot of words. Especially from a photographer. But the whole point of me putting this out there is this: I’m going to be slowing down and shooting more. More stuff that I’m not getting paid for. Because I genuinely love photography and I have a lot of really photo-worthy people in my life. And this blog might just get a little full of posts with photos of my kid (soon to be kidS!!) and my life and my loves… and I’m not one bit sorry about that. Sure, I’ll still be shooting and blogging some really fabulous weddings, but that won’t be all you’ll see here from now on.
You just thought you should know :).