We’re delighted to bring you a guest post today from renowned Australian photographer, Karen Pfieffer
A photographer friend said to me recently that the main reason she gave up her photography business was because she never felt like a “proper” photographer. She never felt she deserved the title of Photographer, nor the praise and “likes” her images attracted.
When I pressed her on what had made her feel that way, she said it was because she was entirely self taught. She didn’t know how to manually edit images and relied on pre-bought actions. And she didn’t really understand light.
Every time she published one of her images to social media, she would only ever see the image through the eyes of other photographers and feel deflated that they would no doubt be judging her composition, or lack of skill with the lighting, or her editing.
All she knew was what worked when she looked through the camera view finder, what made her heart sing and made her excited to see the images on her computer after pressing the shutter button.
And really, isn’t that what photography should be? Shouldn’t we all be striving for that feeling of excitement when you know that this shutter button press is going to be “the one”?
Firstly, I want to make a quick point about who we shoot for (or post images online for). As business owners and photographers, we should never worry about what other photographers will think about our work. Who are we shooting for? It’s simple: we’re shooting for our clients, or ourselves. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone but the person paying you, thinks of the images.
Secondly, the main point to this blog post…
I feel so strongly that it’s important that we all find what brings us joy from photography. I mean the kind of joy that gives us butterflies, the sheer joy that makes us feel giddy, knowing that what we’ve created is something that makes us truly happy.
Why? Because at the end of the day, I’d say the majority of us are professional photographers, earning a living from our craft. I’d also guess that the majority of us became professional photographers because photography filled us with passion and enjoyment from our craft. And why wouldn’t you pursue a career from that, if you could? What’s extremely important, then, is to make sure that we don’t let the fire in our belly to create something beautiful, along with the enjoyment we gain from that, be put out.
So, how do we do this?
It might be working with bold and beautiful colours in a newborn session, or nailing your style and working with props and vendors that give you joy. It might be photographing a family and creating a beautiful gallery, but in amongst it, shooting one incredible, emotional image so full of connection for the family, that it will bring tears to their eyes. It might be imagining a concept and then seeing it come to life. It might be volunteering for an organisation in some sort of shooting capacity. Whatever it is, we need to think it, do it, own it, and LOVE it.
As newborn photographers, we can create absolute magic for our clients. There are so many beautiful props and things to work with, that the sky’s the limits. It must be done safely, of course – it’s so important that we continuously access training in various formats to ensure that when we work with newborn babies, we do it with absolute care, and with every safety measure we can have in place accounted for.
For me personally, my work with newborns is something I cherish. I feel incredibly lucky that my job is one that I love – I love being around babies, and I enjoy each and every newborn session.
That said, what truly brings ME joy is being able to work on a concept and then see it spring to life. To think of an idea – no matter how hairbrained it might be – and then put it into a piece of art. I adore working with children and animals to create simple but beautiful fine art pieces. That’s where my joy springs to life. Images that make the families involved smile and laugh, or images that people study to see all of the beautiful elements involved. That’s where my joy comes from.
And by creating these art pieces, I keep my joy in my every day newborn work too. My creativity is fed, and my passion is fed, so my photography never feels like “just a job”.
Find your joy in your photography. Find what makes your heart sing, and do it.
To see more of Karen’s work visit her website HERE