The First Year

I've officially made it through my first year of being self employed. It was bizarre. It was terrifying at times, but mostly it was fabulous. I've had some time to reflect on my year. Here's my list of 5 things that sum up my life this last 12 months.

 

1) The "how's it going?" question.  

'Hey Christine, I heard you went out on your own, how's that going?" Always leading me to decipher if the person asking wanted to know if I was succeeding or failing. Then accepting that not everyone wants to see you make it. Or maybe they do, but they assume that because I have chosen photography, I don't have much of a chance.  I got to a point when, no matter the intentions of the person asking... I answered "Well I'm not starving", poking fun at the age old "starving artist" adage. The truth is, I am very lucky to have supporters in my corner.  My husband thinks I have what it takes, my parents think I'm finally on the right track, I have a mentor helping me along the way and a handful or friends who believe in me. 

 

2) The "fake it till you make it" mantra

I started my year thinking this everyday. Up until last week it was still my motto, but it was a cop out. It was a way for me to take less responsibility. I've realized, I'm not faking anything. I'm working my tail off. I'm emotional when I need to be, and am truly happy with the work I am doing. If I'm faking my way through it, how can I possibly capture true and honest portraits? Sure there are many things about running a business I am learning as I go, but that is true for anyone. The important work, the images and my connections with my clients, there is nothing fake about it. 

 

3) The realization that I like my work.

As my body of work grows and I curate my favorites, I am proud. I am encouraged to keep going. If you had asked me 5 years ago to photograph a newborn baby, I would have probably run the other direction. I had every intention of working towards a boudoir/glamour business. But I am so happy with the direction my clients have taken me. I LOVE working with families, I love seeing them every year and being a apart of their traditions. I think documenting families as they grow is important work and I'm happy I get to be the one to do it. 

 

4) The crippling fear of everything!

So maybe this is just how I am, I can't say this is unique to my being self employed, but it's still very true. Maybe this is just how I operate, but it's (usually) incredibly motivating. Being an artist, having a creative profession, you hear time and time again "you can't compare yourself to others" Well, why the hell not? I'm terrified of failing, so the best way I know to avoid that is looking at images I love, study them, compare myself to them, and then figure out how I fell short and improve upon that! I LOVE looking at others work,it hurts and inspires all at once. I spend more time then I care to admit looking at photographs. Are there days it's discouraging? Obviously. But it's necessary and you can't let it slow you down. Failure, money, marketing, growing a business... yes there are days I don't want to get out of bed, but then I remind myself of item 3) I like my work... and that helps me put everything else away and keep moving forward. 

 

5) The Top Twelve

"Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop" 

-Ansel Adams  

If it's good enough for Ansel, it's good enough for me. 😉 

Here are my 12 favorite images I made this year... 

The Portrait of a Child

I find myself staring at these images today. To me, they are a great example of what I strive for when capturing portraits of children. I want to be there when they are experiencing real moments in their life. Of course I love planning the beautifully styled shoots as well, but to capture powerful moments like these is very special to me. I think it's important to consider both types of photo shoots as I capture your family over time. A child playing is one discovering their world. They are learning things that shape who they become. To photograph them when their natural talents come to the surface makes me enjoy what I do even more. 

As adults we become so much more guarded with how much we allow ourselves to be seen in our photographs. We have been practicing the same smile and tilt of the head for years. It takes a great photographer to help us forget those overly practiced poses and find something a little more honest. I think the more the photographer can understand that, the better they will become in all types of photography.

Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world... Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.
— Irving Penn

I don't mean to say that it's any easier to photograph a child. Often times there is fear of the camera or they are shy to meet me. A lot of kids are used to having pictures taken of them with a small phone, but many have never seen a large camera. They get a little nervous because they don't understand what it is. I am willing to teach them about the camera, get on the ground and follow them and wait for the moment to happen. It cannot be forced, I just have to be ready. However, a child is not afraid of how their image represents them in the world, they don't care if they have dirt on their face or messy hair, so it is far more likely they will allow me to capture the moment when it happens.

And if I may take it a step further, I believe once these children become adults and look back on these images, they will appreciate the truth I captured.

As adults, we aren't as willing to share that part of us as quickly as we did when we were children. However, we are happy to share that version of our younger selves with those who we believe to be judging our current image. I believe that is because, as Mr. Penn stated, we know that who we are at the core is wonderful. A great portrait is a powerful thing, I think it should start before the person finds the face they think the world wants to see, it should start with the one that finds adventure in what they do everyday, and maybe they will be able to hold onto the ability to show their true face just a little bit longer.

 

The Chocolate Smile

I feel like I owe you guys some pictures. It's been awfully chatty around here. I do actually take pictures too! On this Sunday I thought I would just go for something that would bring a smile to your face.

I think we can all agree that watching a kid experience something fun for the first time reminds us how great life can be. If that thing happens to be getting the whisk from the brownie batter, well you better believe the camera is coming out to capture it! This is my friend Hendrix. Yup, he was named after legend Jimi Hendrix. He makes it quite clear that all you have to do is clear your mind and devote your energy to enjoying the chocolatey moment. 

www.christinethephotographer.com

So I hope you make some time to play. Maybe get a little messy, but whatever you do, enjoy something whole heartedly. 

~Christine