Rekindling the love

One of my favorite working photographers recently posted a list of “20 perfect things” on his blog, recognizing the simply perfect, small pleasures in his photographic life.  His #19 really resonated with me:

#19. Photographing what you love without regard for what anyone else thinks. Sure, it’s nice to hear people rave about your images, but at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is that you love them and loved making them. Being a so-called amateur has this strongly in its favour. Don’t ever forget why you do this. David duChemin

For the past several years, I have run my own wedding and portrait photography business.  What started with an intention to shoot exactly what I wanted, how I wanted — which for me meant purely candid, artistic images of people in the moment, laughing, loving and being themselves — over time morphed into a conglomeration of other people’s advice, desires and expectations.

Here are just a few of the suggestions I’ve gotten over the years:

  • People prefer tender images of their children looking into the camera.  What you want to shoot doesn’t sell. — Photographer
  • Photojournalism is for lazy photographers.  You need to pose your clients. — Photographer (Note: If you’ve ever seen a photojournalist in action, you’ll know this is hilarious!)
  • Photojournalism is dead.  It’s all about fashion photography now.  You need to continually update your style. — Photographer
  • You need to diversify and provide all types of photography: head shots, commercial, portraits, wedding, etc. — Business owner
  • You have to do in-person sales consultations with a projection system in order to make money. — Industry expert
  • Never sell the digital negatives. — Industry expert
  • Never post your prices on your website. — Industry expert
  • I love your style but can you change [insert fundamental aspect of my style] just for me on my wedding day? — Prospective client

I think you get the picture, and there are dozens more where those came from.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not pointing the finger here and I take full responsibility for my predicament.  I got wrapped up in the well-meaning advice of people who were older or more experienced, and I discounted the advice of my own heart.  But here’s the secret no one cops to: Even if the advice given was truly the “secret sauce” for that person, I am not him or her and I can’t replicate another person’s success by doing exactly what he/she did.  So, what now?

I’m commencing a personal detox program:

  • First, I’m going to take some time off.  Although I’m taking gear on our trip, it’s going to live in its cozy, little bag until I feel inspired to pull it out.
  • Then, I’m going to take some time to shoot what I want, when I want and how I want in order to rekindle my love for photography.
  • After some time has passed, I will revisit whether to keep my love private or go public with it (i.e. to keep photography a hobby or to put my shingle back out).

If the latter wins, I will define very specifically how I work, and I will make that clear in all of my promotional materials. I can’t do everything well and, more importantly, I don’t want to.  I resolve to be true to myself going forward, and to develop selective hearing loss to ensure that well-meaning advice and suggestions no longer make me second-guess my convictions. Probably easier said than done, right?  Well, we all need goals.  😉  Stay tuned to see how I’m doing.

Is there anything in your life that you loved but have lost passion for?  What happened?  What are you doing to reconnect, if anything?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Cheers,

On Creative Recovery and the True Self » KateWatson.net - […] is my second time through this material. The first time, I was completely blocked. I had just closed my photography business after a several-year-long slide into creative depression […]

Art Aligned™ » Blog Archive » Freeing your creative energies - […] September 2011. When my husband and I left home, I thought I’d never pick up a camera again. My creative flow was completely dried up. I started taking classes in other art forms to find a new passion. What I found instead was my way […]

Kate - Thanks, Rachel! I am very grateful for the support I’ve been receiving from clients like you during this process. If my experience can help others, I’m all for it. Cheers to you and Tom!

Kate - Thanks, Rachel! I am very grateful for the support I’ve been receiving from clients like you during this process. If my experience can help others, I’m all for it. Cheers to you and Tom!

Rachel and Tom Herbst - I just read your whole blog and I say Awesome… We loved your photographs and I still brag to this day that I did not have any posed pictures during my wedding!

I hope you find what you are looking for and just so you know I shared your story with my High School art class as a way to not lose the passion and do what you love!

Rachel and Tom Herbst - I just read your whole blog and I say Awesome… We loved your photographs and I still brag to this day that I did not have any posed pictures during my wedding!

I hope you find what you are looking for and just so you know I shared your story with my High School art class as a way to not lose the passion and do what you love!

Kate - Thanks, Jody!

Kate - Thanks, Jody!

Jody Yarborough - Kate,

I indeed did enjoy reading this blog. I think you said what needed to be said without sounding “pissed off” lol I think too, the Valley is in hyper-drive and very competitive. That lends itself to a lot of people just talking to hear themselves talk, i.e. all the unsolicited, or even sometimes, solicited advice.

I think just like you and Brian having the guts and the courage to embark on this life-changing journey you are about to go on, you will have the inner compass to know IF and HOW you should return to photography. We’ve talked before how something can become “not fun” anymore, and that is never a good thing. Whatever “it” is, it has to bring joy and happiness and be fun! at least moreso than less.

Here is to fun!! You have a God-given talent behind the lens. I am sure you will find your fun with it again. And if not, that is okay too.

Love,

Jody

Jody Yarborough - Kate,

I indeed did enjoy reading this blog. I think you said what needed to be said without sounding “pissed off” lol I think too, the Valley is in hyper-drive and very competitive. That lends itself to a lot of people just talking to hear themselves talk, i.e. all the unsolicited, or even sometimes, solicited advice.

I think just like you and Brian having the guts and the courage to embark on this life-changing journey you are about to go on, you will have the inner compass to know IF and HOW you should return to photography. We’ve talked before how something can become “not fun” anymore, and that is never a good thing. Whatever “it” is, it has to bring joy and happiness and be fun! at least moreso than less.

Here is to fun!! You have a God-given talent behind the lens. I am sure you will find your fun with it again. And if not, that is okay too.

Love,

Jody

Kate - Hi Angie: You are the one who proved that first piece of advice wrong. You understood and loved my style back when I was 100% unposed and in-the-moment, and I will always be thankful for the opportunity to work with you and your family. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kate - Hi Angie: You are the one who proved that first piece of advice wrong. You understood and loved my style back when I was 100% unposed and in-the-moment, and I will always be thankful for the opportunity to work with you and your family. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Angie Bice - As a former client, I surely hope you return to the business… in full “Kate” style. And I have to say that most all of the pictures I’ve purchased do NOT include my children looking at the camera! And I would never have thought that before meeting you. 😉 Your eye is the BEST for getting the great shots that will enable me to remember how my children REALLY were at the ages of the shoots. I look forward to continuing to hear about your journey. And, yes, I really really hope that one day you’ll come back to us for pics… maybe Jimmy’s grad shots? Maybe that mythical city-shoot in SF that I’ll never stop wanting!! :) :) :)

And, I LOVE the woman and her child pictured at the top of this post. Seriously, I really LOVE them! :)

Angie Bice - As a former client, I surely hope you return to the business… in full “Kate” style. And I have to say that most all of the pictures I’ve purchased do NOT include my children looking at the camera! And I would never have thought that before meeting you. 😉 Your eye is the BEST for getting the great shots that will enable me to remember how my children REALLY were at the ages of the shoots. I look forward to continuing to hear about your journey. And, yes, I really really hope that one day you’ll come back to us for pics… maybe Jimmy’s grad shots? Maybe that mythical city-shoot in SF that I’ll never stop wanting!! :) :) :)

And, I LOVE the woman and her child pictured at the top of this post. Seriously, I really LOVE them! :)