We’ve all heard it before: “Don’t forget where you came from”, but oh, how often we DO. We all get lost in our daily trudging- trying to just keep up with laundry, remember appointments, paying bills, and in general- thinking we still aren’t where we want to be in life. I’m probably more guilty of this than you are. Really. The only difference is that most of what I agonize over involves photography. I gripe about that new Canon 5d Mark 3 camera that i can’t afford, I complain all the time about how my studio isn’t big enough, I lust for new studio lighting that will step down low enough to shoot at f 1.4, and I often feel like I will never have enough backdrops in my studio to have a good variety for clients.
One quote sums it up perfectly: “I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.” But do we? No, we forget about those days. We get so wrapped up in what we don’t have, can’t afford, can’t do, and totally forget where we started. Only every once in a while do we get a virtual smack on the back of the head and realize how far we’ve come. I got that smack on the back of the head last week while preparing images for Amelia’s Reveal for her Senior session. If you don’t remember us posting about Amelia, here is one of my favorites from her first session that we did at Muse Farm last summer:
For those in the photography industry, this is not the most “technically” perfect image. I know that. It’s not even THE best image from her session by any means, but it’s a photo I would have had NO idea how to do 10 years ago. Extremely dim lit room, keeping the ambient light, yet adding light to the subject. My head would have popped off if someone had asked me to do this 10 years ago. Not to mention I wouldn’t have had the proper equipment back then either. Heck, 10 years ago I think I was still shooting in “P” mode…that stands for “professional”, right? hahaha.
Anyway, while compiling a slideshow for Amelia’s big reveal appointment, I have to admit I kind of shed a few tears, (that’s a big deal for me considering my family refers to me as the “ice queen”). We fell in love with Amelia this past year, she’s an amazing young woman with talents out the wazoo. She was laid back, chill, up for whatever, and of course she is gorgeous. But that’s not exactly what had me so emotional. As I watched her images fading in and out on my monitor in her slideshow- it took me aback and I felt something amazing. I felt proud. It made me realize how far I’ve come as a photographer in these 10 years.
Yeah, like that photo up there ^^^ You can’t get that image SOOC (straight out of camera) in “P” mode or with a built in camera flash. It takes time, lots of learning, lots of equipment knowledge, lots of failure, and lots of studying and research to get to a point where you can do that. (and it’s still not perfect- there’s still room for improvement if you get technical).
So often I get wrapped up in what I don’t have, and what I have not yet learned to do- that I forget that 10 years ago I started in an old shop that was infested with ladybugs. Yep. It was my grandfather’s old shop that was small, kind of musty smelling, and consisted of one white sheet as a backdrop and a set of lights I bought off ebay for $99. (Those lights had to sit and recharge for about 7 seconds before they were ready to flash again- ugh) I had no idea what i was really doing- all I knew was that starting from about 10th grade I wanted to have the power to envision an image in my head and know how to create it in real life. I wanted to be a photographer SO bad, even though at the time it wasn’t the “cool” thing to do (only outcast wierdos did photography back then haha.) Photography has always been like trying to harness a super power to me. Anyone can take a photo these days, cameras are everywhere- but not everyone can make day into night or make an ordinary portrait full of “drama”. And that’s the part of photography I love. Adding the light exactly where and how you see it in your head, and knowing exactly where you want your shadows to fall.
I’ve moved my studio a lot since I started. I think I’m in location #5 now, and of course I’ve been through LOTS of cameras, which always seem to get more expensive as time goes by lol. Although I’ve cycled through many sets of studio lights, I still have those $99 ebay lights tucked away in the closet. Slowly but steadily my studio space has improved and grown, and of course about 4 years ago Lonnie came on board as full time photographer as well. There’s been so much growth in SHP, and sometimes I need that smack on the head to remind me that all good things take time. The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there. I may be 70 when I get my dream studio, but it’ll happen in time. For now, I just need to remember that I have all the basic tools I need to make amazing images NOW. Sure, fancy new cameras, some of those $600 old master canvas backdrops and some Profot B1 studio lights would be AMAZING, but 10 years ago I prayed for a studio space in town, I prayed for the ability to harness light to make dramatic lighting in my imagery, I saved and saved to purchase the old used set of Novatron lights I used up until a year ago. I have to remind myself that 6 years ago I was dragging that cheap ebay studio light around the fields of Foxwoods with a 30 pound jumper battery pack for 13 mini sessions because I had no idea how to use anything else. (talk about a backache the next day!) Now I have a light unit for outdoor work and the whole thing weighs about 2 pounds. Pffft! What do I have to whine about?
If you have time today, think about how far you’ve come! We all start out like bumbling idiots, no matter what the path is. If you could go back to yourself in 2007, and tell your younger self what your life is like now, your younger self wouldn’t believe you. If someone had showed up on strawberry hill and walked into my shop in 2007 (ladybugs flying into their face and all) and told me that in ten years I’d be a true professional photographer, with a studio in downtown, with “real”, “fancy” equipment, and that my husband and I would be surviving totally as self employed business owners…well I would think that you must be completely crazy. Moreover, if you would have shown me these photos, I’d never believe I did them.
We are all trudging along in this life. We all feel sometimes like we aren’t where we wanted to be at this point.We are all just treading water and trying to stay afloat, no matter how some people present themselves to the outside world- none of us have it all together. As my pawpaw always said, “life is what you make it”, and I bet if you’ll take the time to reflect on things you’ll see that you’ve made quite a bit of headway from where you first began on your journey.
I have struggled for YEARS with calling myself a professional photographer. Over the years I’ve never felt worthy of that title, or felt that I was “good enough” yet.
I think I am finally at a point in my life where I can look at our work and say, “ya know what? We make some bad-ass portraits!!!” SHP still has a lot of growing to do- in photography you never master anything- the technology and the tides of client desires are ever changing. I know I will never know it “all”, but I feel proud to show up to client reveal sessions and show them what we have created now. I know with every bit of my soul that we put our EVERYTHING into our work. We take our business uber-seriously, work our butts off, and we love what we do. Thanks for taking the time out of your evening to read our blog, and we hope you’ll contact us soon so that we can make something amazing for you and your family.
I’ll leave you with some more of Amelia’s beautiful images. Thank you guys!! Much Love!