"Never work with children or animals"
I must have heard this a thousand times! It's something I have a think about every now and then, because surely it's a special kind of crazy that loves to photograph children being themselves, and if there is a loopy dog or a disainful cat in the mix it's even better? I've had a few days off now, and the luxury of taking the camera out of my hands, along with the daily grind of the business, has meant time to examine what I do, and why. I got into this career by fluke. I'm not someone who's been the photographer-type all my life. I've always loved story-telling, yes, but didn't realise I was going to do it in a visual fashion until relatively recently with the birth of my first child. What I AM completely and utterly passionate about is kids. I don't claim to be an expert in much, but this is truly my life's work.
I remember attempting to understand Morgan when I got home with him as a newborn, falling for the strange but popular notion that they're tiny aliens that we have to 'learn'. Morgan was my best teacher though, and quickly taught me that he was just a tiny, needy and helpless human who needed me, and most of all needed me to be instinctual... and confident about it. I couldn't absorb enough about him and how he would grow, and my love of learning about child development developed from there. I read a few books, then chucked most of them! We never looked back. He is now a gorgeous almost-teenager (thirteen days and counting) and although he has his dirtbag moments, I'm just as excited about the new frontier to explore with him :)
The reason I'm talking about this is that in my world, there is much talk about 'photographic style', 'business models', 'products and pricing' etc, in order to differentiate ourselves from other photographers. That's ok, and I've figured that part out as part of running a business. What I think gets missed sometimes though is that when you hire a children's photographer, fundamentally you will want someone who's great with kids. Someone who knows the developmental milestones to watch for, or be able to recognise a particular cry in a newborn. I've had the great privilege of patting many a baby to sleep, talking endlessly about breastfeeding, putting hair in pigtails, bandaids on knees, seeing first steps and watching as a very proud six year old pulls out a tooth (something I'm sure they know grosses me out!). Even if I was a child psychologist, or perhaps a child-care worker, I wouldn't get to be part of what I am now. I get to be part of all this AND create story-telling images of that child's life for them to treasure long after they're watching their own child's first steps. This really is less about the photography for me, and more about your children. I think that makes all the difference.
Tomorrow I'm officially back on deck, and it's knowing that I get to go out and create something special with the kids that has me excited. January looks like a load of fun with the Summer Sessions about to start. There are still some places left, but you'll need to be fast. Any time I don't book will be spent with at the beach with my soon to be thirteen and ten year olds. If they'll be seen in public with me...
(and just to prove that there's something to photograph in any mood...some of my old favourites of my boys.) I look forward to seeing you and your family in 2012.
PS, if you were photographed in 2011, don't forget to check out the last post!