Film Is Not Dead. And neither am I.

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 :).



Sara Jo - This post made me happy because as much as I love your pictures, I love the words you always so carefully choose to tell the stories you capture. You’re a master story-teller, Lisa, and I can’t wait to see more of your own beautiful story show up here! I’m so glad you’ve chosen to share more at this magical time in your life as your family is about to grow…how exciting! 🙂

admin - Sara, you are just the sweetest :). I’ve been thinking about you quite a bit this month as you prepare for your wedding, and I literally cannot wait to see your photos!!!! I’m praying that the weather is wonderful and you have the very best day of your life :).

Gretchen - Love this post and excited to see a mix up on the blog!

Stephen Cox(Dallas Wedding Photographer) - As a fellow photographer, I can completely agree with you. It is important to do things that inspire you and make you repeatedly fall in love with the art. Memories for others are important, but personal memories are the most important.

Denise Franklin - Lisa, you are SUCH an inspiration. I have to tell you, the Lord works in SO many mysterious ways!! I saw a friend’s daughter posting all of these creative random pictures on her FB page the other day and I thought to myself, why am I not sharing some of the random pics I take? It’s a passion of mine, I’m no professional photographer – but maybe someday I will be…either way, the pictures make me happy and that’s what it’s about right? So I decided as of last night I was going to start posting pics, and then I had this urge to get onto your blog today and I read this. So many “coincidental” happenings going on in my life right now, and they just reiterate all the things we should be doing to enjoy our lives. GOOD FOR YOU, and thanks for posting this… and CONGRATS on your gorgeous new baby!!!! I can’t wait to see you soon for our shoot!!! 🙂

Patrick Fisher - First, congrats on your new family addition, he’s adorable. I too am a member of the “camera in the closet” club. As much as I HATE it, my wife documents most of our family time with her insta-crap app. Honestly, when I do have my camera I feel like I’m missing my life or watching it pass me by through a view-finder. Not to mention I hate lugging my DSLR around with two kids in tow.
All that being said, I took my kids and camera to the park the other day just to have some fun and get some pics. Well, we had a blast (when I gave up trying to pose my kids). I hope to find the happy medium where I can learn to enjoy both my family and my shooting. I’m guessing your new awesome family pics will be a good inspiration.

Angie - Loved this post. I have recently gotten back into film and purchased Jonathan Canlas’ business guide book. It’s really opened my eyes to what’s really important & why I got into photography in the first place. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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