I get asked pretty often "how did you get into photography?" Or "why is it that you do what you do?" I'd give my clients a pretty generic answer about it being my passion and blah blah blah, and we'd move on to another conversation. Lately though, I've been thinking.... why do I do what I do? The answer isn't simple, and it's for many different reasons.
The two reasons I get up each day and strive to be the best I can be...
First of all, photography is not something I just woke up one day and wanted to do. It's always been something I've been interested in, and it's been a part of my life since the day I was born. My grandparents always showed us the value of an image... whether it was just by walking in their home and seeing the gallery wall of family pictures on the stairway, or maybe it was the fact that they one of my grandparents always had a camera (or camcorder) in their hand. My grandfather was always showing me his latest camera, and he was always so proud of it and the pictures he took. My grandmother was always taking videos of all us grandkids. It is so fun to be able to look at these things now and show my children too.
Growing up, if I ever wanted to see pictures from a specific age of my childhood, all I had to do was ask! My grandparents had albums (and albums and albums) of pictures of every single year of my childhood labeled very clearly with captions and even labeled down to the specific months. I still have access to these albums and it's great to look through them!
Me and my grandfather. I was 5 or 6.
Then the digital age came, my grandmother reluctantly got a digital camera and the era of albums stopped for us. It is sad to look back. At the time we thought it was best for her to keep up with the times, but now I realize we have lost a lot of years in our documented story. It's just not the same to have memory cards full of pictures but no way to view them (my grandma doesn't have a computer, or ipad, or even a smart tv). I never realized the value of a print until my grandfather passed and we had too many pictures to choose from! Or when my cousin passed and I could see all the hundreds of pictures taken of us as kids and all the memories came flooding back.
Me, my brother and 3 of my cousins.
For me, prints are so important and very much a part of my life from the time I was born. Even in my parent's house growing up we always had yearly portraits done and they would fill our stairway and be changed out every year. It was always so fun for us to go through the old images from years past and see how much we changed, from little babies to teenagers!
Now that I have kids, the importance is even more there. I mean, kids really do change so much! It's crazy how I can look at my son one day and he looks like a baby, and the very next day he is a little boy with his cheeks thinning out and his body getting taller and leaner. And my daughter has gone from a chubby little baby to a gorgeous, tall 5 year old before my lens and I have it all captured and on my walls. And when I become sentimental or they are driving me insane, I just look at different pictures and it takes me right back to the moment it was taken.
Another question I get asked all the time is "why newborns?" Well, that one is simple! I just love babies! I always have! My entire childhood was filled with babies (I have A LOT of cousins and had a baby brother born when I was 8). I was always eager to hold them, or change them or feed them. My only dream in my entire life was to be a mom and babies filled my head. When I was in nursing school I knew I wanted to work with babies, and my favorite clinicals were in the NICU or in Labor and Delivery. My heart was with the babies! However, I quickly realized nursing was not for me. It was all in that time that my 1st baby was born and I filled my days with taking pictures of her. Different hats, different outfits, every holiday, every moment, and more was capture! I had an album made of her 1st year and it is still one of my favorite things! I took her to JC Penney when she was 3 weeks old for newborn pictures. They turned out ok, I never was swoon by them, and I just accepted them for being just that... acceptable.
My daughter at 3 weeks old
Then my 2nd baby was born 13 months later and he was sick, like really sick. We almost lost him and I took pictures of him because I wasn't sure if I'd have more moments with him. Luckily he is a strong little (BIG) guy and he is perfect and healthy today. I again took him to JC Penney at 3 weeks old and had his pictures taken. This time, my mom had to beg them to allow my daughter in the images with him. They never undressed him, he was awkwardly posed, uncomfortable and cold.
My son at 3 weeks old
Of course I bought them, because they were my babies but I have always, always regretted not getting newborn pictures done of my children from a professional. Someone who specialized in newborns, and was comfortable with posing and loved my babies like I love them, and wasn't viewing me as an inconvenience because I wanted sibling pictures of my 2 kids together! I have no family pictures of my husband and I with our 1st baby, and none with our little family of 4.
The ONLY picture I have of both my kids together with my son as a newborn.
So that brings me to now, 5.5 years later. I have specialized in newborns and I offer sibling portraits in EVERY newborn session that has siblings. I encourage family pictures at every newborn session and I also encourage portraits with baby and mama, and baby and daddy. These moments go all too quickly. They fade faster than you think they will. One day you'll wake up and your babies will be in kindergarten and in preschool and you'll find it hard to remember when they fit in your hand or snuggled up on your chest making their sweet sounds.
I don't remember what I paid for our "portrait sessions" at JC Penney. I do know I thought it was expensive. Looking back, I'd pay a thousand times what we paid there to have those pictures of my kids. I will never ever get those moments back! If I could redo it all, I'd have gotten newborn portraits done of both my kids. But I can't redo it, so the second-best thing is to make sure that my clients get unforgettable images of their sweet babies!