That was the question I was confronted with at the end of this last week.
Why are you doing this?
Why does this matter?
Are you making images that matter?
I am sometimes making images that matter. Sometimes not.
Sometimes not? Is that a little too honest?
I'm just beyond the 2 year mark for beginning this work I do. I can very poignantly remember my mindset about stepping into business. My presumption was that you had to do everything you could do to get as much work as you could. I studied the work of successful photographers, faithfully trying to recreate their work, feeling assured that as soon as I learned their secrets, their techniques, their poses that I would reach that pinnacle of success too. I envied them. I blog stalked them. I compared my work to theirs and felt small. I tried on the shoes of many types of photographers, thinking maybe that something would fit.
And I created too many images that weren't meaningful. They were pretty, or maybe cool, or trendy. Maybe some of them blazed through the ranks of Pinterest. But they weren't mine, and I never thought to ask myself, Why?
Warning: The following paragraph is the scariest thing I have ever admitted on this website which is aimed to promote my work. It might be a huge liability and it might cause me to have ZERO future work.
I don't care about wedding gowns. I really don't. I don't care if you color coordinated your kids and that we found the 'perfect' field for them to frolic in. Actually, I don't believe in the word perfect. I don't care about your cake or your list of formal family photos. It makes me sad when you yell at your kids on a shoot for playing. Let them play. I know you want me to tell you if you look fat, so that you can shift your pose, but I don't ever notice if someone looks fat. I don't know if your hair went out of place or if you got mud on your jeans. I don't see it. I'm literally blind to those things. I have tried to force myself over and over again to remember to look at buttons on tuxes and check wrists for hair ties. If you are hoping I can make your "details" look nice, you'd be better off hiring a fruit bat to photograph your wedding. And there it is, folks. The truth. Are you still reading?
The thing that I care about is this: YOU.
I Really. Freaking. Care. about people. I care about YOU. I am a relationship person. I believe in love. I cry at weddings. I dance at weddings. I hold space in my heart for the couples I work with and I hope for their future with sincerity. I think the small people we live with should be honored and thought of as gifts. When I photograph from that place--that place of raw honesty and caring about the real people behind the "stuff" I do my best work.
Why? I can tell you why.
Because life goes by so quickly and so few people ever stop to notice the world around them. Because in 20 years we’ll want to look back at our children and remember their sleeping faces, their messy bedrooms and their scraped knees. Because a wedding dress isn’t important, and neither is a seating chart or a cake. It’s about relationships. It’s about people. It’s about community. It’s about showing up and not be ashamed of our real lives or our real bodies. Because I see beauty in people in very deep and real ways. Because I want people to see themselves the way that I see them. Because I want people to show up on my front door and be welcomed into my home and accepted for who they are. I want them to show up in front of my camera and feel welcome and accepted too. That's why.
And with that, you'll notice some changes around these parts soon. Here's to a future of images that are made to fill our glasses with the things that matter.