Have you ever had one of those “AH-HA” moments that brought tears to your eyes? For years, I’ve been searching for my niche in life. When I finally admitted to myself that I wanted to take on the hard task of opening my own business to pursue a career in photography, I thought that was it. Then when I finally got started building my business from the ground up, I found out that I’d have to make the step to offer something more specific….a specialty of sorts. For the past year, I’ve resisted this. “Why can’t I do it all, I love it all…why do I have to choose just one?!!?” Almost like a teenager throwing a fit for being misunderstood by my parents.
I’ve dabbled in everything…from capturing landscapes on my travels to family portraits at the park to product photography for an exotic woodcarver. I thought for a while that Food Photography would be my niche. I loved eating quality food and I loved photographing quality food. The subject didn’t move, I could have one on one time with the dish to focus on it and create the image that I thought would represent it best. There wasn’t anything nerve racking about the subject not liking their own appearance. The restaurant hired me because they liked the my style and they wanted to capture their dishes in that light. There is decent money in commercial photography. I could do one food photography shoot for a restaurant and get paid the same amount as I would have with 4 portrait shoots. However, recently I started to notice it wasn’t something that I would often do “just for fun”. I’m a decent cook, I’ve made some pretty dishes, purchased some beautiful fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and in my head I thought “I should pull out my props and take a picture”…but I didn’t.
When my daughter was born, I was naturally drawn to photograph my favorite subject. The happy moments, the crocodile tear moments, the moments that I wanted to stand still. The majority of the photographs were more like snapshots and then something happened when I pulled out the studio to create something timeless. To me, the word timeless is by far my favorite complimentary adjective in regards to physical appearance…either personal or in regards to my artistry. I pulled out my mountain of fabric that I’ve collected over time and created a portrait of my sweet daughter that I will forever regard as timeless. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more proud. I wasn’t just capturing a moment in time, I was creating a piece of art around my most favorite subject of all time. I felt like I could truly own the title of an artist, not the expert camera machine operator/button pusher that photographers are often portrayed as. (“Oh, what a great picture…what camera do you have?”) I’ve styled creative shoots with adult models like that, but never did I get the fulfillment that I did when shooting my child that way.
Only a week later, I pulled out my camera and attempted to create another styled shoot. Now a week after that, I have this deep desire to do it again and not only with my own child but other children. With a creative styled shoot, I can only imagine what that 6 year old little girl will feel like when she thinks she’s dressed as a timeless whimsical woodland princess. I don’t want to shoot shots with cheesy forced smiles, but something that captures imagination authentically. Creating a fine art piece that will stay relevant forever, like a painting in a museum, everyone that looks at it can imagine that it tells a different story. With only shooting one subject at a time, I can truly focus on just one personality. With styling the shoot, I can create something that highlights the subject with my own artistic flair. Children are too young to have been tainted by society’s tendency to focus on the ideal of physical perfection and feel self conscious about their appearance. The parents will hire me because they like the my style and they want to capture their children in that light. These are the things that originally drew me to food photography, but instead of an object as an subject…a living little human being bustling from the inside out with genuine personality.
This is what I want to do for a living. I know that I don’t have anywhere near the portfolio in this niche to start exclusively offering Fine-Art Children Portraiture, but it is indeed my ultimate goal to do this full time. This is my great perhaps. Some may say it’s too soon to say that, but I just know deep down….this is it. I’ve never felt more certain about anything else regarding my career. I’ve given myself a year to start phasing out of offering everything to start phasing into making this my specialty.