Perhaps a better question to ask is: “Why am I a photographer?” In recent months, I feel like I've completely lost touch with why I became a photographer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do, but sometimes I forget why. When I was first starting out as a photographer and all of my shoots were “just for fun,” it was easy to see why I enjoyed it. After all, there were no consequences if I screwed something up, and I looked at photography as more of an escape from reality than a job.
However, once I decided to dive in full-time, my mindset shifted from “I want to create” to “I need to produce.” Sure, I still had shoots that were purely for fun or for portfolio-building, but deep in my mind, a seed was planted that made me look at photography as a job and no longer as a passion. If I’m being honest, that’s completely messed up!
I became a photographer because I love taking pictures. I love evoking emotion from people who view my work, and I love capturing the emotion of my subjects through my lens. It’s truly that simple. I had this epiphany at about 3 o’clock this morning, but it stemmed from a shoot that I had the other day. I was shooting with a local model and we were walking from one location to another when I decided to randomly snap a few pics. If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for lighting and that’s usually where my 90 percent of my brain activity lives during a shoot. Needless to say, that doesn't leave much for anything else. I don’t know what was different about this particular shoot, but for those few frames I shot, I wasn’t thinking about anything at all. We were just having a conversation, and I was pushing a button. It was like I was back in the good ole days where nothing mattered and I was just snapping some pics because I could. I honestly feel privileged that I can call myself a photographer, but sometimes I forget how amazing it is, and I get stuck in the technical side rather than the emotional side.
Fairly recently, I posted a picture on my Instagram where I asked my followers what was more important: lighting or pose and expression? Truth is, there was no right or wrong answer because neither one should take a back seat to the other. That may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s honestly something that I struggle with every time I shoot. I always think about the lighting first, but the challenge is not letting the technical side overshadow the purpose of the shoot, which is capturing emotion. Of course I’m talking about portrait photography, so this may not apply to everyone, but it’s still something to keep in mind. As professionals, we shouldn’t have to worry about the technical side, because it should be second nature.
I suppose it’s about time I wrap this up, but I just wanted to share some personal thoughts and struggles I have when balancing my job with my passion. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or lose sight of why you became a photographer, just take a step back and think about what made you choose this career path. Get back to the basics, and just have fun.