While I was not invited to join the team by their client, Ed said something to me on the phone that cut through my emotions like a razor sharp knife. Ed could have done what most people do: Either not call, text or email, or he could respond but just say the client “went in another direction.” The other photographer was chosen because he didn’t show any party pictures, events nor many pictures of people at all.
The other photographer felt the client was able to get a good sense of his work from the website, so instead he brought work that he was passionate about: Pictures showing the potential client what is really at the core of his ‘commercial’ work. That was extremely risky knowing most people want to see pictures of exactly what will be happening surrounding their party if it be a wedding, anniversary or birthday party. Who wants to see a pretty landscape from Ireland when they are hosting a ballroom reception for a birthday party filled with people downtown NYC? The client did.
Outside of my wedding work, I had nothing current to show aside from iPhone pictures. I mentioned in a previous blog post about how I lost touch with my initial passion that led me to photography some 15 years prior when I moved to Chicago for a permanent newspaper job in 1999. The weather, gray skies and walls of concrete affected my passion. However, I was also moving away from freelance and into a commercial staff position for the first time in my life. I found myself grinding away at the camera 30-40 hours a week and working 10 hours of OT a week: The last thing I wanted to do was pick up a camera and nurture passion. The passion was tired. I wanted a beer.
Fast forward to running my own wedding photography studio in Chicago, and change photographing from 30-40 hours per week and drop that to 10-15 hours per week and add in way more time spent nurturing what makes a business thrive, and the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a camera and nurture passion. The passion was tired. I wanted a glass of bourbon (neat, please).
I spent my final 4 years in Chicago searching for passion, but in all the wrong places. My business benefited because I thought passion meant always learning new stuff to better my business: better lighting, better marketing, better client relations, better networking, more refined sellable images, more exclusive events and on and on. While that did me well, it left the core of my passion still hungry. Photography had become technical and political, rather than something that organically controlled my emotions and actions. I had the pleasure of building up my career from a young age, and was not thrown into running a business from day one. Photography came from the core for a long time.
Months after Ed’s talk, I moved to LA and I went crazy with my iPhone camera chasing light unlike I had ever before. I was addicted. After a while, I started to feel protective about my images and a sense of personal responsibility and ownership again. I found myself returning to my images over and over from the day, sharing them with Ryan and talking to him about why I took ‘that’ picture. I eventually had to let go of the iPhone camera. Social media dictates photographs are urgent and the immediacy of sharing does not allow me to process my images the way I like. Using an iPhone with subpar camera optics became pointless. Patience is King even in a digital world if you can muster some of that 1990’s asset.
I don’t carry around a DSLR. They remind me of work, are way too big to lug around, lead me to carry too many lenses and are too obtrusive to be a fly-on-the-wall. I opted to keep things simple with a digital rangefinder that fits into my “murse” easily. The more gear, the more I will find reasons to leave it at home.
Before I knew it, my 4 year search was over. Today, I fight the urge to stop while on my way to work, spending the day with Ryan or walking my dog. While this journey is fresh and new, I will say being reunited with the core inspiration that started this all 29 years ago has already changed how I photograph for my clients. And that makes me happy to see such a trickle down affect. Whew.
I am excited to share a slew of new work that I will roll out from time to time. I hope my words inspire others who have been grinding away at their cameras long enough to get lost in the fast-paced world of making a living with your passion. Below are images of things I see from day, to day.