I realized, while sorting through categories on this blog, that I had documented a few of my first photo sessions here – most, if not all, were offered for free so that I could get my feet wet. Once I jumped through a few personally-designated hoops and realized that portrait photography was something I enjoyed and could probably excel at, I set up a separate site for my professional photography.*
This line between personal and professional is awkward, especially when I’m drawn to the areas of portraiture – weddings, children, families – which depend on personality as much as technical skill, and since I know that who I am is one of the reasons I am good in these areas. I’m the person who wondered whether there was a way to hire herself out as a professional bridesmaid, because she so thoroughly enjoys having a day- or week-long goal of doing nothing but tending to and cherishing a bride and groom. And I’ve been volunteering with the allegedly terrible two-year-olds at my church for three years running because playing with them and loving them is a delight to me. Yeah, I’m tooting my horn a bit, but I assure you it feels very uncomfortable and I will totally add an addendum if any of my friends let me know they wouldn’t say the same things about me.
Back to the line. After a summer and fall of doing much professional work, of putting my work out to be critiqued, of constantly seeking out new challenges and opportunities in photography, I was a bit sick of taking photos. I didn’t throw in the towel, but I gave myself permission to set absolutely no goals for the winter season – usually the time where there is less actual shooting but a lot of acquiring new training, networking, and marketing for those who shoot predominantly outdoors.
And for a while, I took no photos.
But then, I started to be sad that I wasn’t. I kept seeing beautiful moments and wishing I had my camera with me. And I started challenging myself, in the midst of a dreary and ugly winter, to seek out beauty to capture and share.
When another local photographer complimented my personal photos recently (which was entirely unsolicited and very kind and generous of him) I was able to piece together the idea – which has probably been told to me many times before, but which I suspect every artist has to reach in their own way – that I will never enjoy photography if I am striving to read people’s minds and create something that I think will please them. I can only nourish this part of me that craves beauty and desires to capture and share this beauty. Then I can hope that people will respond to that. If I’m incredibly lucky, they’ll respond by throwing money at me.