What Kind of Photographer Am I, Really?

January 18, 2018

What Kind of Photographer Am I, Really?

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I can never get more than 10 pages into Click magazine before throwing it down and grabbing my camera. Today, it got me running for a pen and paper (…well, my laptop.) I now have a couple of bones to pick. One of them is regarding my most common type of client, and the other is …what do you even call the photography that I do?

I started thinking on these topics this morning because while I sat down to read the newest issue of Click magazine, I came across a really lovely piece called “The Truth in You” written by a photographer out in Reunion Island named Emilie Iggiotti. In her article, she writes about helping clients break free from the traditional portrait sitting and bringing some real life feeling into her sessions. In her quest to find what she really loves in regards to her photography career, she made a point that really struck a note with me. Something I never really considered before, but is very real to me. She says– 

“I made a list of things I did not like in the current photography market. First, it bothered me that women are photographed and celebrated only when they’re playing a specific role established by society. She’d be photographed as a “fiancee”, then as a “bride,” then as a “wife” in a boudoir shoot, then as a “mom to be”, and finally as the “mom” at family sessions. How about the women who don’t become fiancees or wives or mothers? Is there really no occasion to celebrate and photograph them in their own right?”

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Now, Emilie sure is an amazing photographer (you can see her work on instagram @Emilieiggiotti) but she’s also onto something profound. Why is it that women feel the need to wait for defining moments such as “almost married,” “married,” “almost Mom,” and “Mom” to book a portrait? There are so many other turning points and crossroads that come before these moments; times in a woman’s life when she feels the most… herself for once. 

Many of my clients tell me that their session with me was incredibly empowering and really brought their confidence and self awareness to a whole new level. I can just imagine how much more meaningful this session would be to a woman who is trying to find out who she is, what she wants in life, and is looking for someone to share it all with. I mean, why wait to do something so uplifting and enlightening until just before you’re about to give a big ol’ chunk of yourself up to someone else? (Or are you actually just building a whole new unfamiliar part onto your self? thoughts for another day…) Anyway, the point is, you don’t need to be on the verge of mother or wife to feel worthy of a beautiful portrait of yourself.

On a whole different level, this article also really got me thinking about the work I do and if boudoir is really even the word I want to use to market my business. Excuse me as I ramble aloud to you all, but I’m in search for some clarity and even some input. Yes, I photograph intimate portraits of women, but a lot of what I shoot isn’t necessarily what most would consider boudoir. (And honestly I really kinda dislike the word boudoir.) Yes, sometimes I shoot in a bedroom scene with lingerie and lace… but sometimes it’s more fashion-y, or moody and in the middle of the woods with no lingerie in sight. I don’t necessarily think all of my work is considered boudoir; my portraits of women do tend to have at least a tinge of intimacy though. 

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Clients and onlookers have told me that what really speaks in my images is the evident connection I have with the women I photograph. This makes me really happy because that connection is what fuels my love for this style of photography and keeps me wanting more. I believe that the ability to form a bond like this with my client takes the knowledge and awareness that comes with also being female. Because here’s the thing… We are fickle, dynamic, passionate beings. I’ve never met a woman who knows exactly what she wants or who wants the same thing all of the time  …But when she wants something, she wants it, and that doesn’t always need justification …And women really just yearn to be understood in whichever state they’re in at that given moment. I sound like I’m talking about a child, don’t I? Ha. But in all seriousness, being a woman and sharing these understandings with my client makes session time that much more personal to both me and her. We share the connection we do because I understand where she’s coming from, wherever she’s coming from at that moment, and in photographing her I accept her in that form. We both grow personally during our time together, and that feeling of connection and mutual understanding is unparalleled. I shoot for truth; for candor. And when I find it, and she feels understood and seen, I’m reminded of why I love my kind of photography as much as I do.Enter your text here…

Told you I was going to ramble. This is also proof that baby brain never resolves itself either. I’ll forever be scatterbrained. 

I did realize while typing this though that I even feel these kinds of connections with my senior portrait, headshot, and family portrait clients, just as I do with my boudoir clients. Because not only am I a woman, but I’m also a mom who has been away to college. And I’m not one of those photographers who just floats through a session with a flow of poses and meaningless banter; I’m the kind that gets excited with them and talks to them about their hopes, plans, and dreams and wishes them the best. When I’m shooting a senior, those feelings of nostalgia hit me and I get giddy with excitement just thinking about all the fun he/she’s going to have discovering who she is away at college. I mean, college is where I broke away from the norms of my home life and realized how I want to live my own life. I met my amazing husband some of my closest friends while I was going through all of that transition. That was a huge time in my life …A huge, great big time that I’m super thankful for and wouldn’t be the same without. And when I photograph a new family, I immediately relate to the mother. Motherhood is my most favorite chapter in life so far. I think I could talk to any mom of small boys for hours just about the everyday antics that go on. Little boys are nuts! And such little loves. Big balls of never-ending energy. And soon I’ll be able to relate to any “girl mom” too, because my little peanut Lana is growing up way too quickly and I’m convinced there are differences between girl moms and boy moms and moms of both.

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Anyway, back to the matter at hand, I feel a re-branding coming on and all input/suggestions are welcome. Glad I got all of that off my chest! Thanks for listening, and thank you Click Mag for always keeping me inspired and intrigued.

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