I’ve been reflecting a lot the last year over my photography. Actually, if I’m being 100% honest, I’ve been struggling for the past few years with what inspires me and what I want to continue photographing.
About four years ago I made the decision to hold on weddings. I love shooting destination weddings and basically those were the only weddings that I accepted; however, I was struggling with the physical demand that being 100% ON on wedding days. It’s not just about taking a photograph. Its about knowing the couple, their guests, the location, seeing everything that I can and then also making sure that the “traditional” photos are captured. The traditional part became remote for me and I didn’t like that about the process. I needed a break. Just before COVID I decided to take one and it came at the perfect time in the industry.
I still remained photographing mini portrait sessions but over the last 4 years they really became about getting that annual family photo for “the card” and less about lifestyle or real life and real life. Even though I could still be creative I started feeling like the soul was being removed. Like it was truly just about the card. I wasn’t doing any personal projects and I got burnt.
The last quarter of 2023 I was more looking forward to seeing my clients and catching up with them than about creating the perfect photo for their card. I decided in December – no more.
I love my clients. Almost every one over the last 22 years have become personal friends. And the few who haven’t I appreciate them for the lessons they’ve taught me along the way.
I became a photographer to capture real life, to see realness, to truly see the person I’m photographing. I know it the moment I click the shutter and many times I’ve found myself say, I just saw you. It’s the most amazing thing. Photos are so much more than a record. To me it is about seeing it’s about connecting. I see for a living. And I actually remember every single photograph that I’ve captured that was about seeing the unique lovely person in front of my camera.
A little story I want to share with you … I’ll never ever forget the session I did for Nancy, a breast cancer survior. She wanted me to come over and spend some time with her and her dog and just capture her spirit. Her zest for life. We did that. Most of the session we had a cup of tea, my camera on the table by my side and when I felt the right moment I snapped. We sat in front of her home with her dog, chatting and when the moment was right I lifted my camera and snapped. Casually, not all posy posy. It was as we were talking, sharing and connecting. That session was so moving for me. I got in my car, sat for a moment and cried. I cried because that day, I saw Nancy the way she wanted to be seen and I knew it. I had so much love and pride for those images we created. That feeling, that feeling is at the very core of the reason I own a camera.
I also remember a few years ago taking some photos for my friend Lori. We were in her backyard and she said, you know Penny, you really light up when you are taking photos. See, she knew me in a professional sense of us working together in the marketing field. But on this day, I got to photograph her family and create. It was a compliment that I truly was thankful, because at that moment she really saw me.
The last four years I’ve gone to too many memorials of friends and clients, my photos being in slideshows and in front of the sanctuary. Last month at the service of a dear friends daughter when I went up to give her a hug she said “thank you for all the beautiful photos you’ve given me”. More tears. See this friend let me just take photos over the years, sure we did pose and get the smiley, everyone look at the camera photos on occasion, but most of all, she trusted me to just snap away, when it was right, not directed.
I’m getting back to passion and art and the love for why I load the film, and why I snap.