Random thoughts by a people photographer. JOURNAL ENTRY 1

February 3rd, 2012

Love photographing – hate bill collecting

Want to please everyone

When we have a few days of happy clients we are elated, but defending that we need to support ourselves financially is self defeating.

RECENT TRUE STORY: A man who comes into the studio with his family is appalled that his wife has spent money on photography (mind you he actually didn’t take it out on me – but rather on her his wife in front of me), and verbally reprimands her that she “can not” spend money on this again.  He was shocked that there was a session fee and that did not include ALL of the digital images or prints of everything – and continued to grunt, moan, and groan through the first 20 minutes of the session.  After he calms a bit and is loosening up we get some family portraits done and then I start photographing just their beautiful child.  The entire time, she has a smile on her face, is playful, silly and I have such a great time with her.  Nearing the end of the session I hear the dad giggling and commenting on how cute she is being for me.  We are done with the shoot and dad quietly says with a pause.. “well, I can already see you’ve got some amazing shots of our daughter; so….. I’m SURE we will be ordering a lot of photos.”  with a big huff and drops his shoulders like I have physically defeated him in the ring.

I walk them to the front door to see them out of the studio and mom takes the beautiful daughter to the car ahead of dad.  My response to dad after mom & child are out of ear-shot… “Thank you so much for bringing your family in for me to photograph today.  I can see that you are a proud man, as well you should be with a beautiful family like yours.  I know this was not your choice to come in today, but I commend your wife for getting you all in here for a family portrait – and as a daughter myself, I can tell you that these will mean more to your daughter in her life than you could ever know.”   The dad turns to me sharply (mind you I was a little worried that I had overstepped my bounds at this point) and he very kindly says – “I am sorry I was rude in the beginning – I am a CEO and make plenty of money… and that is the last time I will question paying for portraits, thank you – you made my daughter and wife smile which I see all the time – but today – you made me smile by seeing you make them happy.”

As photographers – we can’t please everyone, and we will never be able to make everyone believe there is value of photography.  But sometimes, when we break through to  a client – all of those “other people” that don’t understand just melt away from our minds.  We are photographers of love, of family, of life and we are historians more than most will ever understand right away… but some day when they look back at images we have taken as photographers… they will have one moment when they understand the importance that they have that image sitting in their hand or hanging on their wall.



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12 thoughts on “Random thoughts by a people photographer. JOURNAL ENTRY 1

  1. I don’t know how you do it. I can’t stand taking pictures of people. Although I do shoot a taped television show twice a week, it’s different. For pleasure I do landscape videos. Humans are highly overrated. 🙂


  2. Great story thank you for sharing. Peiple dont realize the importantce of photographs. They not only tell a story but keep memories alive. We will never again be who we were in a picture of our past and that is the best part of photography keeping that part of ourselves alive.


  3. I wont swing as far as Marc on ‘overrating’ human photography, mostly because I know too many who are so much better than me – my sister Sylvia, my friend Anita, are just the beginning of the list.
    I started photography to capture the beauty of my (our) garden and the many other lovely sites we visit.

    Maybe it’s just not enough practice photographing people.


    • Well I don’t think i should have said “can’t stand”. Should of said, I prefer landscape to humans. I collect early Hollywood Photographers works. Sinclair Bull, George Hurrell, William Walling, Ruth Harriet Louise, and more. I’m not against people. I’m far to demanding to be a good portrait photographer.


  4. Every moment we capture on camera is a moment we can go back to – every moment not captured is a moment we must pull up in our minds. We can print those memories that were captured in our cameras – even if they didn’t come out quite right. We can’t print what’s in our mind – and as someone who watched two loved ones die of Alzheimer’s and is watching another die of Alzheimer’s, I KNOW the importance of getting that memory down on camera.

    I’ve been a genealogist and family historian since I was a teenager. I’ve only been a professional photographer for two years, but the two are deeply intertwined. It’s what I try to impart in all of my clients.

    Awesome job.


  5. Very inspiring story – thanks for sharing. As a beginner in people photography, I know that my biggest job will be interacting with clients during a shoot to bring about the desired effect, and you seem to have mastered that. I hope that I can do half as well!


  6. I love looking back at photos, professional or not and trying to remember the moment when it was taken. Your timing and comments to the father were well chosen. If you made them smile during the shoot then those photo represents more than just a pose, it’s the whole experience. Thank you for sharing it.


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