There are so many photographers in Cincinnati… and many of them are really, really great. It’s true. Life has kept me from keeping up with them like I used to, but I feel so fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful group of artists. They’ve inspired me, challenged me, and supported me. We’re lucky to have such a great community of photographers and videographers in this area.
As awesome as it is to have such talented people all over the tristate, it can be hard sometimes to stand out and differentiate yourself and your work. This used to be such a struggle for me, but in recent years I’ve sort of been forced to let it go due to the craziness of life. Advertising, social outings, social media promotion, cultivating a finely-tuned brand… those were all things that I just didn’t have the time or money for when I was a single parent in school and working another job. My inability to function the way I used to made me take a long hard look at why anyone would still hire me despite the fact that I felt like I was drowning in both work and life.
The answers were right in front of me. I learned things about myself as a person and as a photographer that made me grow as both. My clients who stuck with me showed me in both big ways and small ones how valuable I am to them. For that I am forever grateful.
What’s on my heart to talk about specifically though, is something totally intangible. Like any artist, a photographer has to be able to use their gear and technical skill to take a photograph… but I believe what makes a person an artist is when his or her unique life experience makes its way into his or her work. There are moments, expressions, and details that ignite my heart as they happen because of the path I’ve travelled. In that respect, there are no two artists who are alike. There are no two photographers who are exactly alike.
For example: I love playing with kids not just because it takes me back to when my own were toddlers, but also because I spent about 5 years working with children in a day care setting. Worried that your two year old doesn’t want to sit still for a picture? Don’t. Because of where life has taken me, chasing after him or playing peek-a-boo with her is simply second nature. I love getting down on a child’s level and talking to them like a person. I know how to make a child feel comfortable and I’m not afraid to be silly. I’m definitely not the only photographer who can do those things. I know I’m not alone in those skills, but they’re not just skills… they’re parts of my heart that catch fire and ignite my passion for capturing the true smiles that follow.
All photographers have them – those experiences that infuse their photographs with pieces of their hearts. I’ve felt if for years and I love that part of being an photographer (and videographer). It’s the reason you’ll often see me shed tears behind the camera… especially during weddings and births. Oh my word.
It’s those pieces of us, the artists, that make our photographs unique. No two photographers can document a wedding or a portrait session the exact same way. I really believe that. Because when I raise my camera, I’m not just looking through a viewfinder, I’m seeing with my eyes and my heart.
That brings me to today. As I’ve said before, life is always changing. Each season is different. While I still carry experiences dear to me for a long time, I’m different now than I was even a year ago. I see the love between a couple with a renewed, grateful heart. And I also… now more than ever… see moments with dads and their children differently. Don’t get me wrong, mom and dad moments have always been a soft spot for me because of how much I love my parents. But now, there’s this tug on my heart that’s stronger and even deeper every time I see a father/child moment. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen it manifest. There’s been an image from each of the last three shoots or weddings that have struck me harder than normal.
That’s what makes my photographs mine. It’s what makes each artist special. I see things in a different way and the photographs that follow are a result of my heart making its way through the camera and into the fiber of the moment itself. It moves me and it makes me incredibly proud to do what I do.
So thank you to all of my clients. By asking me to be a part of your lives, you give me the opportunity to put a little bit of my heart into your most treasured moments. It’s humbling and more wonderful than I can express.
And Dad… thanks for saying hello to me as I recognize my love for you in my work. You and Mom have always been the biggest fans and supporters of this creative passion of mine. You still are. I love you.