How long can one train be? It felt like I was at that railroad crossing for an eternity. Maybe the universe was giving me some extra time to myself before the workday. I was so mellow, I think I may have been being hypnotized by the flashes of warning strobes. It’s curious how trains can have a …Hol’ up.…stop.
I can’t even keep a straight face right now. This is a load of hot garbage.
The universe wasn’t doing me some divine favor by putting me right there right then. I overslept and, much to my disappointment, early morning trains on my route to work were never outlawed. What about the mellow calmness?
Oh that. That was pure apathy. I truly hated my job.
I was just done.
I felt stuck. No. Trapped is the better word. And I was always thinking of my escape. For instance, Sunday evenings were the worst. That’s when the feeling of impending doom would start. If my life were playing out in a movie, every morning at 5:30 a.m. my alarm would probably be the music from the The Shining.
Within a couple of months, I would quit said hated job, sell my house, move to Atlanta, and become a full time photographer (go big or go home, right?). But you’re here looking for a photographer. So why does any of this matter?
Because it’s important to set expectations
I think it’s important to know the person behind the camera. What are their motivations? What the hell are they all about? Why on earth should I give you my hard earned scratch?
People, especially 2 year olds, feel a lot better when they know why.Ask any two people why they’re a photographer and you’ll likely get two different answers.
Ask any two people why they’re a photographer and you’ll likely get two different answers.
Photographer A: “I was kind of aimless but since I’ve always liked taking pictures and I’ve heard wedding photographers make bank, I figured what the heck, let’s give this a whirl.”
Photographer B: “I have a keen eye for taking photos that give people a different view of their world. Turns out, I also gained a lot of business experience working in my family’s small business. Marrying those two together, I found the perfect way to make a living doing what I love.”
You’ll get the same result if you ask any two people what they’re looking for in a photographer.
Customer A: “I’m not going to pay $X.00 for pictures when I can have my daughters friend do them with her nice camera for free. I mean, I don’t even want prints since I’ll always have ‘em on my phone.”
Customer B: “With my parents getting older, it’s really important to us that our children have pictures of them having fun with their grandparents. Those pictures will always remind them of the loving relationship they shared with Nana and Pop Pop and one day they’ll be able to share those with their own children. That’s priceless.”
To be clear, photographers A and B clearly see things differently. Who cares? It’s the same for customers A and B. The way they all view photography isn’t the problem. The problem is when the wrong customer hires the wrong photographer. That, my friend, can be a front row seat to a full on Gallagher style shit show without a tarp.
“But I thought you were gonna….”
Expectations can be tricky like that.
‘Why’ is important because each party having similar motivations and expectations are important. My motivation is kindergarten level simple: to be kick ass at what I do and to always do right by people.
On the blog or on the job, here’s what you can expect from me.
You’ll always get the real me.
100% Grade A, organic, free-range,
aged-to-perfection aged-to-pretty-damn-decent Daithan. You’ll get to know what makes me tick—both what makes me tickled and what ticks me off.
I’m going to talk like a person. I mean a real-life normal person talks, not like “press 5 to speak to a representative” pseudo-human on the other end of an 800 number. I’m not saying I won’t be professional. But being professional and being painfully-stiff & bland are two different things. In other words, I may drop a few f bombs every now and again.
You’re also not going to find much, how should I say…photographer speak: precious moments, timeless treasures, captured memories, chamomile tea on rainy days, etc. If you’ve ever looked for a photographer, you know the drill. It’s true, moments, emotions, & memories are at the heart of what us photographers do, but do we all have to sound like identical minions watching the same poorly acted soap opera?
Sure, I want to capture that ‘precious memory’ for you but I want to do it by making you say “Aaaagh!!Are you kidding me right now?! Those open back lace panties make my ass look like divine!! I can’t wait for him to see these showing this side of me” or “My mom is going to lose her shit when she see’s those photos of the two us in front of the window in my bridal suite. She was telling me what her mom told her right before she got married.”
Real will always win the day.
It’s all about you. Mainly future you.
Photography, for as much as we love it, is great now. But a photo is valued exponentially more as time passes. So the photos I take for you now should be taken in a way so that they mean something later, right?
For instance, a picture of you two randomly walking hand-in-hand down some random railroad tracks—something A) you’ve probably never done and B) should be high on the list of things to never do—isn’t a photo likely to stick around for the long haul. The photo I take of your joined hands held high in the air, sharing an embrace and a kiss as the most outrageous float in the Pride Parade glides by behind you—well, that one’s a stunner that the grandkids are going to adore.
Speaking of time
I’m not watching the clock or starting the timer on an hour long session. Sometimes it takes much longer than that or sometimes the good stuff is really just getting started. Relax. Breathe this day in. The session is over when it’s over and we’ll know it when we get there. For now, let’s just sip a tasty beverage, let your best moments naturally unfold, and enjoy the day. Oh, and forget about the guy with the camera.
Oh, and you won’t need a translator to decipher my packages or sell a kidney to afford me. Being honest, the hardest part of looking for a photographer you love is wading through the clutter of pricing. Can I have this instead of that? What if we want a second shooter and 9 hours instead of 6? Hard pass. I’ve tried to alleviate the headaches (for both of us) by making sure my pricing is easy. Like super easy. Easier than getting an Alabaman to say ‘Roll Tide’ easy. Now you get it.
I frickin’ love photography but the business of photography can be hard to love sometimes. It can be hard to strike the balance between doing it for the love and doing it for the money. I think I’ve found that balance (pssh…whadya want, a cookie?? Yes, yes I do).
Nothin’ but love
A bumper sticker recently caught my attention. It said quite simply, Humankind. Be Both. And before you ask—yes, it was a Subaru. It’s super easy advice. I think it’s a great way to describe the way I try to be.
I’ll always be human
I photograph love stories. People loving others and loving themselves. Every body loves. Straight people, gay people, people with disabilities, transgendered people, liberal, conservative, and atheist people. All of ‘em. Some of ‘em even love eachother (Gasp!). In fact, I don’t care how you got here or how we work with each other. If we’re kicking it, we see the world the same way. People are more important than things—things like gender, politics, or religion.
I’ll always be kind
Photographers are privy to some intensely special moments. Therefore, kindness is key in this business . Being chosen to serve people during some of the most emotionally vulnerable or intimately significant moments is a privilege I can’t easily put into words.
A woman exposing her body and emotions to a stranger with a camera—emotions she’s only recently wrestled under control about the body she’s only just begun to appreciate—is profoundly real and delicately human.
A wedding day that’s already tense because of the weather and is only getting more worrisome each time Aunt Rita takes another trip to the open bar isn’t an irritation I’m hating more and more by the minute. It’s an opportunity for me to ask, “Hey, how you holdin’ up? Wanna sneak out of this mad house for a second and grab some photos of just the two of you? Yeah, I thought you could use a breather.”
Most importantly, I’ll be kind when we humans have the hardest time doing so. I may make mistakes, but you best believe I’ll own it and do my damndest to make it right. If I’m not the photographer for you, no probs! I’m still down to help you find the photographer that’s a better fit. Did you make a mistake? Ok, let’s figure out the fix. You get it.
Most things can be fixed with a simple phone call. We put a man on the moon in 1969 (…or maybe we didn’t), I think we can figure out how to make this right.
So now that expectations have been set and we’re on the same page, let’s get back to the original question. What in the actual hell are we doing here?
We’re doing things differently.
We’re measuring our lives in experiences instead of expenditures. We know that, ultimately, the time we spent and who we spent it with is going to matter so much more than the money we spent and what we spent it on.
We’re planning for our futures. Having a solid plan in place for our financial future is important. However, I’d argue that planning our legacy is equally, if not more, important. How will our great-great-grandkids tell their origin story without if we don’t leave them anything to tell it with? Families pass all sorts of things from one generation to the next— bibles, jewelry, journals, and furniture. They remain in the family because of the stories that come with them.
We’re doing so much more than just another business transaction from opposite sides of the cash register. We’re doing some of the most important, impactful work for our futures. Right now.
As simple as good and honest—with a little bit of razzle-dazzle—photography is, it’s all about giving us something we can look forward to: a way for us to look back.
Just what the hell we’re doing here? That’s easy.
If you ask me, I think we’re doing it right.