My blog is a place where I share my thoughts, and sometimes it has nothing to do with weddings or portraits. This post is geared more toward fellow photographers, but I hope you will find it beneficial regardless of your profession.
When was the last time you had a professional portrait taken? For many people, it could be their senior year in high school, college graduation, or wedding. Then children come along, the years seem to evaporate and we find ourselves making the all too common excuses: “I’m not spending money on pictures until I lose all the baby weight,” “I’m not photogenic,” “I’ll do it later,” etc. The children grow so fast and before you know it, they are starting school or graduating and you suddenly discover that there are plenty of snapshots of the younger generation, but very few professional portraits of your parents, yourself, or the whole family together.
For me, it isn’t much different. As a photographer, I’m the one behind the camera who captures everyone else’s portraits, but not my own. When I look for a recent headshot or family photo, I have to dig deep to find one that’s less than five years old. I always tell people, “having your portraits taken is a priceless gift that you can give to your family and pass down to your grandchildren.” I believe this more than ever since I’ve begun researching my family tree and would give anything to just have one picture so I can see who they were and what they looked like.
On a recent trip home to England, I decided to find a local photographer and schedule a portrait session to get new head shots for my website and marketing materials. I figured it wouldn’t be complicated. I’d look online, hire the best photographer I could find, pick an outfit, and voilà! Clearly, it had been an eternity since I had been the “client!” I dug through several different websites searching for “the one” who had a portfolio that I connected with. I finally found him. Then I had that “What am I going to wear?” moment which turned into “I have NOTHING to wear!” After finding a jacket I liked, I built my wardrobe around it. Getting to England was the easy part.
I met Jim next to the York Minster and we hit it off right away. He was an experienced photographer and easy to work with. I was excited to be photographed in a place that my family has called home for many generations. However, as we walked around, I suddenly realized that being on the other side of the camera was harder than I remembered. I felt like a one trick pony with no idea how to pose or what to do with my hands. I found myself wondering if my hair was out of place, or my top needed tucking in, or if I was holding my coat in the right place… all the things that I think about when I’m photographing someone, but this time, I couldn’t see. During the session, I realized just how important that constant verbal direction and encouragement really is to the person being photographed. When my session was over, I had a fresh perspective on what it’s like for our clients – from finding the right photographer, to wardrobe choices, to the session itself. I believe every photographer needs to be on the other side at least once. Not only will it help us relate more to our clients, but also ensures we don’t neglect those priceless images that our families would like to treasure, too.