This year, as far as photography goes, has been one that has challenged me more then any other time since I've picked up a camera then I can remember.
First thing first, I've had an amazing time this year. There are so many amazing things that I have photographed, moments and scenes that I was privileged enough to capture, that even now when I stop to think about it, blow my mind. It's been such a great year, but have a new struggle.
(Just as a precursor, this topic is something that has been on my mind a lot over the past year, but especially of the last few months. What I am about to say isn't point toward anyone in particular, but is more of a reflection on the collective state of mind our world, and in turn how it affects (my) photography and (your) memories.)
I struggled for a bit with if I even wanted to talk about this publicly, because in all honesty it may hurt my business, however if it helps put some things into perspective for a few people it will be worth it.
See, over the last few months, I have done more photo shoots with more people (i.e. weddings, families, etc.) then I ever have. I cherish every opportunity I get to share in the making of memories with people and am grateful to everyone that has given me a chance to capture those moments with them. BUT...It has created a new struggle for me.
This struggle that has emerged, I am not sure how to communicate it to you in a way that doesn't come across really bluntly and almost harsh. But here goes. If you want your pictures to look like they came off Pinterest, I'm probably not the guy for you. If you hire me because you saw other portraits or photos I've done of someone else and want them to look like they did, again I might not be the right choice.
The thing is, I want your pictures to look and feel like you.
My first love in photography was landscapes. The thing that I loved about landscape photography is that you can't change nature, and the challenge of capturing the beauty of something that is true to itself. Mountains will always be rough and raw with a certain coolness to them, and they're breath taking. The light from sunrises and sunsets exudes a warmth from it's softness and are always beautiful. And when the rough, cool mountains are bathed in the light of a golden sunrise, it creates something, so amazing, with layers upon layers of breath taking beauty that you struggle to conceive that you are, indeed, in reality.
I can pretty much guarantee that out of all the pictures I have taken over the last few months of people, the ones that get the most "likes" and garner the most "attention" are the photos where that person, those people, were in that moment, their true selves. I know for an absolute FACT that the favourite photos that any of my clients get back from me are the ones where they say that I "captured the real" so and so. The ones where, even just for a split second, they let down their guard and let themselves be free.
In a sense I want you to embrace being you. Sure, that may be easier said then done for some. We all have insecurities, we all want the picture perfect family, and (most of us) wished the camera didn't see wrinkles or lost 10lbs between the lens and the memory card. But we shouldn't allow outside standards affect our most personal and precious memories. I promise that in 10-20 years when you look at a photo, you will cherish that "imperfect" but real smile. You'll not be able to help but smile at the fact your kids were being kids and looking every which way. But most importantly, I promise that nothing will be more important to you than seeing yourself and the people you love, in a real, vulnerable, and authentic way.