When you’re photography business is new, the temptation is high to photograph anything you can point your camera at if people will pay you money to do it. I know this temptation, because I gave into it myself many times. Case in point? Once I let someone pay me to photograph their cat. I admit I was so embarrassed by the results that I’ve never shown them to anyone. Until now of course, I’ll show them to you because I like you. Enough time has passed that now I feel less embarrassed by the results and ready to count it as a lesson learned.
If you’re going to do something, do it well. My mom drove this message into my brain as a child, and now that I’m old enough to realize how smart she is I’m taking that message to heart when it comes to my photography business.
I don’t do portrait sessions of animals anymore. If you’re going to have someone take photos of your beloved pet, hire someone like Cowbelly Pet Photography. If you’re going to invest your money, no matter the amount, invest it well.
Yesterday, I tried another type of session for the first time.
I won’t be photographing any more newborns, at least not for pay. I’ll take pictures of my own babies, and offer to do free photos for friends when the fancy strikes me (these photos here were done as a gift for a friend), but if you contact me about doing a newborn session for your own sweet baby I’ll refer you on to someone who I feel will really showcase what a precious gift you have in your possession.
Newborn photography is hard work. This baby was 14 days, a bit old for a newborn session. He didn’t want to sleep, he kept flashing his goodies at the camera, I couldn’t seem to get him into the magical dreamy poses that the newborns on Kelli Nicole’s blog are always resting in. Kelli Nicole is a blonde-haired blue-eyed baby whisperer. I’m not kidding, it’s pretty unbelievable to watch (and even more so now that I’ve attempted to fill the role myself). I, on the other hand, do not have the patience to stroke and cuddle and shush until hands curl up just so and eyes stay closed.
I warned my friend several times that I wasn’t sure how many image I would be giving back to her, and I was right, there are very few of him alone that I like. In my opinion there are far too many photographers out there attempting to photograph anything and everything, and there are far too many examples of completely butchered newborn portraits with shots angled up the nose and skin looking harsh and flaky.
As soon as I turned my camera in her direction though, my faith in my photography skill returned.
Over the past year I’ve learned what I am good at, and where I think my potential lies. I’m bubbly and energetic, and I relate well to people when I first meet them. This doesn’t matter so much with infants, but it makes a big difference when you work with adults. I want to work with subjects who will respond to me, who look when I say look, where I say look, who smile when I make lame attempts at being funny. Somewhere around age 16 and above, in small groups, those are the sessions I want to focus on. Right now my list includes senior, maternity, engagement, bridal, wedding, and duet sessions. Oh, and don’t forget about shoots with adults subjects done “just because”. You don’t have to wait for a major life event to have your picture taken you know.
There is certainly nothing wrong with exploring different sessions types and working to figure out what type you get excited about.
But eventually, I think it’s time to take a step back and look at the areas where you really excel. Focus on those. Work to attract the clients and shoots that are the best fit for your personality and skill set. There are few things more satisfying than sitting down and reviewing a session where you completely rocked it, and if you focus on shooting sessions that focus on the areas you excel in you’re much more likely to experience that feeling again and again each time you plug in your memory card and upload a new batch of photos.
If I’m going to do something, I want to do it well. And enjoy it.