When I first started sharing my business plans with friends to survey their thoughts and opinions, I received a lot of mixed feedback.
- Those prices might be too high
- People really don't want prints, they just want digitals for Facebook...
- Your talent is worth SO much more than what you're charging!
I felt flustered and confused. But one opinion that has stuck with me has left a bitter taste in my mouth that resonates of hurt and slightly of regret. I told someone whom I admire and look up to very much about how excited I am to start this business and to genuinely SERVE my clients; to give them back memories that are too soon forgotten, to give them back what I had lost...
I expressed that it's not about the money or really even the art - it's about creating memories and giving my clients something to cherish.
Then sighed and replied with:
"Yeah but I don't think they are going to see it that way...." Then she continued on with something about how it's just hiring a photographer and it's not going to truly make a difference in their life.
Okay. Obviously, a few things happened. I realized that she wasn't my ideal clientele and that not everyone is going to see things the way that I do. I also felt very hurt. I felt hurt at the idea that I won't make a difference.
A little backstory:
When I was portfolio building, I experimented as any good amateur does. I did a little bit of this and that to figure out what genre of photography I really feel passionate about and it took me a while to figure out what I love is photographing families!
On Jan 5, 2016 I received a call. I was busy at the moment with my horse, so I ignored it. A while later, I received another call.... from Mom.
....You know what that means.
I finally answered to learn that my Dad was on his way to the ER with severe abdominal pain. By the time I had chosen to answer my phone it was too late to speak to my Dad. He was in too much pain to talk, the situation far too critical.
Perhaps, this is more of a confession and therapy session for me than a blog. But if you're still reading....
I crumpled. I ran to my Bible when I got home and began praying.
Throughout the day, my Dad coded. They were able to bring him back and that is when my Mom delivered the most important message I had ever given anyone....
"Tell him that 'I love him with my whole heart."
Dad heard it. He squeezed Mom's hand. Though he couldn't talk, he heard my message and he knew it.
And then.... he passed.
That was it. Like the opening and closing of a book. 23 years, almost to the day, with this man and he was just... gone.
No chance to say goodbye, no chance for a last picture.
Nothing. Now, I know that EVERY situation can always be much worse but loosing my Father a few days after my 23rd birthday - hurt. Loosing him before Matt could officially ask for my hand, before he could walk me down the isle, or before he could hold his first biological grandchild... That hurts beyond comprehension. That's real life and I'll be the first to tell you, it royally sucks.
In the weeks following his passing, my family was gathering ANY old images that we had of him when I was emailed a picture of me sitting on my Dad's lap as a baby, roughly 10 months old (and my gosh, he was SUCH a handsome devil!). I felt so overjoyed and so devastated and heartbroken all at once. I had NEVER seen that image before and how a single loose print survived 22 years still blows my mind but it did and it was a saving grace for me. You see, we never hired a family photographer. Not once did our family ever go out and have cheesy 90's studio posed portraits done. And after my Dad's hard drive had crashed in 2012, it had left me nothing but a handful of these old film images from the early 90's, which mean the absolute WORLD to me now.
And so here I am... recovering and slowly healing. I've learned a lot since my Dad's passing but mostly it's how truly PRECIOUS our memories are and how FAST time goes by. And now, I feel it is my purpose, here, to create and give back to my clients those memories that I lost; for both the children and their parents. To capture the connection, the love, and relationships between family members, siblings, parents, and lovers! Children will never be this small as they are today and parents will never be as young as they are today. These are moments to be cherished. Photography doesn't have to be perfect, heck I'd take ANY image with my Dad from my childhood right now. But what is important is that it is captured. And even more so, that those images are not left to be lost when a hard-drive crashes or the thumb drive forever vanishes from the desk drawer.
So I will wrap this up with a small note to my mentor who doesn't see the same value in family photography as I do:
I hope that you never have to. I hope that you never loose images or a loved one in the same manner. And I want to thank you for lighting a fire in my soul; for teaching me why it is so important to educate my clients about how I am prepared to truly serve each and every one by giving them more than just digitals. And I want to thank you for helping me see why it is so important that I immerse myself into family photography.