One of the reasons I hesitated for so long to start my photography business was that I didn’t want something I loved to become tedious ‘work’. Now that I’ve been at it for a few years, I know that I’ll never feel that way. I have too much passion for what I too and it seems to only get stronger to the more I work at perfecting my craft. That pressure to perform and do well in a very competitive market is challenging and it motivates me to continue to upgrade my skills and push myself. In the last year, I’ve achieved two goals I had set for myself, become accredited with the Professional Photographers of Canada and enter prints in competition. To receive my accreditation and thus my Licentiate Professional Photographer of Ontario (LPPO) qualification and have prints accepted at both the provincial and national level has made me feel like I can truly call myself a professional, having been judged by my peers in the industry. I still have lots of room to grow but I feel I am on the right path and have chosen the perfect career.
But the industry has changed a LOT since the advancements of digital cameras and because of this, you really have to know why you want to be a professional photographer. Photography is a great hobby and I was a serious amateur before I went pro, but even that can be a challenge. Now, this art form is more accessible then ever and programs like Adobe Photoshop have taken it to a whole other level of possibilities in post-production and that’s amazing. But our love for photography has a darker side – we all are constantly bombarded by images daily and take hundreds if not thousands more photographs than the previous generations did and that means that the value and importance of photography seems to have been diluted – ironic, I know! Often, we have so many files, we can’t decide which to print so we don’t print any. We’ve forgotten how magical and powerful a photograph can be.
As oversaturated as we are here, it’s still a luxury in many parts in the world. And where it’s rare, it has even more power and magic. I remember when I lived in South Africa 10 years ago (before digital) and worked in very poor townships. The children LOVED to pile on top of each other to be sure they made it in front of my lens (a challenge when my preference would have been candids). I would return a week later with the prints and saw their eyes light up. Children have a way of making you see the world differently and I never want to lose that sense of magic. My time in South Africa had a profound impact on me personally but also in my realization that photography was something I just could not live without. About a month after moving there with 6 other Canadians (all part of a Youth International Internship Program), we had our house broken into and both my SLR and point and shoot cameras were stolen. I replaced the point and shoot not long after but it took a whole month before I got a new SLR from Canada so I would have the warranty. The break-in had of course shaken me up in terms of feeling like the place I should have felt safe and secure was violated and the Canadian Consulate strongly advised us to move to a safer neighbourhood, which we did, but not having my camera anymore felt like I lost a limb. It was how I managed to process and record all the experiences I was living while I was there. I was almost ready to get on a plane and come home until I got my replacement camera. Only then did I feel like I could breathe again and enjoy the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people again.
This is what I need to always remember because for those of us who take the plunge and make it a business, we soon realize we aren’t the only fish in town, so staying focused is key to staying positive and achieving the goals we want, as well as doing our very best work for each and every client. Those who grumble, complain and point fingers are losing their focus and it will start to show in their work and how they do business and that’s a slippery slope. Think about why you do what you do and forget about the rest. What keeps me motivated in my business today is that I still see and know the power of photography and love when I meet clients who understand it too:
Photography stops time.
It’s that simple yet so powerful. Life goes by so quickly. Everyone tells a bride and groom to make sure they take it all in because their wedding day will be over before they know it. New parents are told how quickly that first year will fly by. A vacation abroad would soon just a blur if it weren’t for images to remind you of what you saw and experienced. Having photographs that capture those moments beautifully should take your breath away, make your heart skip a beat and bring you back to that time. They should make you smile, laugh or cry. They should bring on a wave of emotion and make you stop and slow down your pace in the present moment so you can relive something that changed your life so profoundly. Family portraits are no different, as the dynamics change and the toddler that used to curl up on your lap and snuggle in is now a teenager with a whole life that has nothing to do with you anymore – you want and NEED to remember that precious time when you were still the centre of their world. Or remember that teenager, still unsure of their place in the world but working hard to find it. Having a few beautiful prints on your wall will be what makes your house truly a home. The album that tells the story of your wedding day will make you pause every so often and re-ignite the love you feel for your spouse. We need photography in our lives, it helps us love better, both ourselves and those who’ve touched us the most. It helps us remember who we were and all that we have done. It gives us a sense of belonging and a real presence in the world. It is proof of our existence long after we will be gone. It is time, preserved. So go through your computer and start printing your favourite images, make an album or take out your camera or hire a professional photographer before life starts moving too quickly again.
Related Article: The Importance of Photography In Our Lives