Friday, March 9, 2012

It's not on the back burner...

Hello all 3 of you!

Begin Transparency:

It's been a stressful week. Those of you that are in-the-know know that I started a new day job this week. I know, some of you are thinking,"Aren't you a badass, full-time photographer?" Sadly, no. I have two other jobs in addition to photography. Why? Cause I'm still growing my business at a pace that allows my family to ... ya know... EAT.

When I was a bachelor, things were way easier to budget: I didn't have to feed small humans that can't get a job and feed themselves. If I were a bachelor I could probably afford to eat Ramen and slave away myself into starvation in the name of making are and fulfilling my dream. Since I love my wife and kids more than anything it means I have to do things that I don't really want to do in order to feed them.

Don't get me wrong: I like my new day-job (and to a much lesser extent, my other day job) and I'll work my ass off for them... but I see it as allowing me the pay off my student loan and other crappy bills so that I can leave all of it behind when I can finally quit everything else. In the meantime, I can shoot as my schedule allows, build a client base, and feed the kids.

There's this taboo out there that photographers can't admit that they have other things paying bills on the side.... Maybe I'm wrong about being transparent, but I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I'm not. I'm just like everyone else trying to get by.... The difference is my Number One priority for my photography to feed my soul... Number Two is getting paid. I'm not about to take shitty jobs that I don't like just to make money. Fuck That. (Sorry if you're not a fan of using swear-words to create emphasis.) I would rather be poor and happy with my work than rich and hate where I am. That's precisely why I'm not a wedding photographer. I love my wedding-photo buddies, but I couldn't do that full time.

Anyway, where I am today should look nothing like where I'll be in 2-3 years, or 8-10 years. I'm going to be a full time photographer and not rely on Ramen to feed my family. I need to build up my business and know that my clients are getting a huge value from my work. They value my work. They buy my prints. They share me with their friends. They book me again and again. All because I put my LIFE into my work. That blood, sweat, and tears gets poured into my work in a way that my new bosses only dream I could do for them. People spend money and time on what they value: I value my goals more than most. More on that some other time.

Anyway, to all of you doing shit you have to do in order to do shit you love to do... Cheers! I'm with you.

End Transparency.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

30-50 Project: Update 10

This week, I'm posting my final subject for the 30-50 Project, Krissi.

Krissi is another friend from High School. I didn't intentionally put my friends last on this project, but yeah... I totally did... Oops. ;-)

Krissi was totally excited to shoot with me. We had planned to have her playing in the snow (it was 20 degrees that morning) and getting some fun photos but we also planned to get some really sad photos too... You see: Krissi has gone through a lot this past year. Her husband lost his job, twice. They couldn't get a reasonable unemployment benefit and it left them stressed. That's something we can all relate to in this economy, but something that not all of us can relate to is that Krissi was also diagnosed as being bipolar.

I don't completely understand what it means to be bipolar, but there are apparently different sub-categories of it. Krissi often swings from being super ecstatic about life to dropping to a depressive state fairly quickly. Typically, "Normal People" don't understand what could be wrong with their friends and loved-ones that have bipolar disorder which leads them to distance themselves from the affected person. This can leave those with bipolar disorder to feeling very lonely which only exacerbates the problem. Krissi's husband, John, has learned to be more sensitive to her needs and realizes that just being there for her can make all the difference in the world even if he doesn't completely understand what is happening.

As we transitioned from the happy-snow photos I warned her that I was going to ask her about how hard this past year has been. I told her, and John, that I was going to try to understand more about her disorder by asking questions about it in an attempt to get something really compelling from the session; A session which she loved and felt was therapeutic since she didn't have to hide behind a smile if she didn't want to... But I wanted to shoot Krissi when she was sad...

Why would I do that?

Easy: I love making dramatic portraits, remember? Most of the time we look at a photo and say,"Oh, she looks beautiful!" or "That's sexy!" but somehow photos of someone crying... or upset... isn't pleasing. You're right, though.... Crying isn't pleasant... but it IS dramatic because it's a part of our life. I don't mean "Oh! Look how Emo that 14 year-old girl is! She's crying!" because that's just stupid....... I mean "OMG that woman is crying like she just lost everything..." It's harder for us to look at photos of those who are very sad, very angry, very anything... We only love the ones where we look hot, or happy, or whatever... but being sad is a part of our human existence. I decided one thing last year about myself:

I shoot people, so I need to shoot every part of people's lives: Happy, Sexy, Sad, Angry, Lonely, Birth, Death.... All of it. To shoot only "happy" is a damn lie and anyone who only shoots happy should be ashamed of their craft. (bold statement, I know)

Krissi, Thank You for letting me in your heart and showing the world what I found there. You're a wonderful human being.