I think so much of being a photographer is about knowing who you are not. As a client, this is just as important.
Growing up, I always had a strong sense of knowing who I was, especially in middle and high school. I literally equate all of that to the grace of Jesus, because that grace of knowing who I was saved me from many regrets, bad decisions and unnecessary heart break. Knowing who I was and who I was not was intensely freeing. It freed me from pressures to perform in ways that didn't align with the core of who I was which in turn, actually made me happier.
Since my high school and college days, I have been able to hold onto that strong sense of who I was until over the past few years when I started my business. Starting and owning a business is like a marriage. You discover things about you that you didn't know where there- good and bad. In order to succeed as a photographer, I started to believe I needed to follow the trends, poses and style of other successful photographers, even when it was opposing to my own style. I even began to feel the pressure to dress differently to get peoples initial attention, a pressure I had never felt before. (Hello, t-shirts, jean shorts and big flannel shirts!) The lines of appreciating the art of other photographers and starting to take on their style for myself began to blur. I was left with a mix of confusion, discontentment, and dislike for almost everything I produced.
The past months have been the best kind of hard for me. I have wrestled and been stripped of all of the “successful suppose to’s”, book knowledge and over indulgence of other people’s beautiful work. I stopped it all and since, I have felt a sense of freedom that I knew very well in earlier times.
I know who I am.
Sometimes, it is harder to come to accept who we are not. In a sense, it is scary accepting who you are not. It feels as if you could be missing out on so many things by not being ______________.
A dear friend told me once, who was the victim of being my model for many photo shoots in the earlier days, “You are great at capturing natural, candid moments.” When I heard this, my insides cringed and let out a, “Nooooooo!” While I was studying the work of further along photographers, the ones I was indulging in had a more styled work. I started to tell myself to ditch every bit of that comment and pursue the opposite. I wanted to succeed and success didn't seem to be following natural, candid moments. Those were perceived as weak, amateur and unskilled.
Once I accepted that for the majority I was not a styled person, the contrast to all of my fears came flooding in. I realized that I would rather have this freedom, joy and peace in my craft and person than the constant tension of straining to be other.
My work goes hand in hand with this. My style has grown over time, as it should, but the core of it remains the same.
My work is authentic, true, elegant, simple, natural and joyful.
The couples that come to me are those who appreciate quality over quantity. They thrive in natural, authentic settings. They pour beauty into every facet of their day, not for the purpose of being seen, but for the purpose of beauty itself. They forsake trends to have timelessness. Their love is humble, but oh, so deep. They find that simplicity is most elegant. They are not afraid to laugh in front of a camera, squeeze tighter to their other and embrace the concept of being fully alive.
That’s who I am. That’s what my work is.
And I am so free in it.
As someone who chooses me to photograph them, you too know the truth of those things and your insides resound with a deep, "yes," as you recount them. You too know the freedom, joy and beauty in eliminating meaningless styles that don't truly portray who you are. I encourage you, friend: embrace all that you are, wholly.