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Hello Lovelies!

While my 40hr/wk job isn't as enlightening as I'd hoped, it still offers me a huge opportunity to hone my skills as a photographer and PLENTY of down time in which to educate myself. So, I've decided to start by going back to the beginning, as Vizzini would no doubt advise me to do. So, I'm going to complete Strobist's Lighting 102 and blog about each lesson and my experience with it. I think it'll be a fun and motivational way to re-learn things that should be old hat by now but are worth revisiting!

So, today I'm reading Unit 1.1 Position and will post another journal here when the fun begins!

Another Day In Your Life

Have you asked me recently how much I charge people to shoot "personal" work, or "on the side" work? Allow me to explain why that price I quote is higher than you may expect.

I work a 40 hour a week job, sometimes more. I love my job and the store that I work for and I want it to be successful. What we offer at work is portraiture. It's clean and straightforward. Our seniors can get a little funky at times, but the out-of-the-box ideas are always customer inspired. If someone comes to me and says can you shoot ______________________________ (fill in the blank with wacky pose/outfit/location), I'll do my best to comply. At the end of the day, I want happy customers. I want the portraits I took to be hanging, perhaps a bit tattered, in living rooms for decades. Even if they forget my name or even where the pictures were taken, that image...MY image could be the centerpiece for nostalgia. That's my wage, that's my salary. I don't make a ton of money, and it isn't likely that I will. But what I give people makes up the difference. Insert cheesy cliché about putting memories on paper here.

I hate, hate, HATE to hear a photographer prattle on about 'passion.' People throw that word around and it's irritating. Millions of teenage girls are passionate about photography right now and it makes me want to throw up on my shoes. They're passionately taking passionate photos of Converse All Stars and then posting a passionate (read: all caps) question on Yahoo Answers about how to "make it look lomo" or where to find a "Holga Action." Don't get me wrong, photography is something I would consider myself passionate about but I'm also passionate about breastfeeding advocacy and the fact that the stupid county road commission chops off the end of my driveway into a CLIFF in the winter.

I can be passionate about something until my teeth fall out and that's not going to make me any more talented or skillful or creative. Passion gets you nothing...apart from drive.

When I'm shooting my 'personal' work, it's a horse of a different color. I wouldn't describe my photography as my passion, I would describe it as my drive. It's the thing I'm constantly trying to get better at, the thing I'm always trying to push farther, that one inexhaustible well of … of drive. When I'm sorting through keepers and klunkers from an amazing personal session, I'm already considering what I'll be doing better or trying differently in the next. I'm constantly hearing Zack Arias mumble "aperture controls flash exposure" or GOYA, constantly second guessing myself and constantly correcting.

From formulating theme and prop ideas to hair and make-up, to post production, I'm bringing everything together. Once you plant a seed in my mind that you may want me to shoot you, I'm considering what I know about you and how I can make your session reflect who you are. I always ask everyone for input and I get some amazing responses and suggestions. Getting to know someone and enhancing an aspect of that person is just fucking fun for me, but it's also way more work than sitting at my desk and answering the phone, booking sessions and shooting sports teams. My personal work is intensive, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I refuse to allow myself to be in a situation when I'm planning/shooting/editing one of these sessions, the ones that drive me to get better at what I do, that causes me to facepalm and think, "I do NOT get paid enough for this shit."

I have a job that allows me that very sentiment on a weekly basis. Be it a bitchy customer complaining about our prices or a hapless newspaper employee FUBARing an advertisement, I have plenty of opportunities to momentarily hate my job. Yet I go there EVERY day knowing that this day could be the day that some asshole pisses on my parade. I collect my meager paycheck and I go home to my family. It's what you do when you're loyal. You take the bullshit people dish out and you never once tell them to get bent.

When you're working for yourself, even on a small (very small) scale, the first thing you realize is that you don't have to be pushed around. You don't have to put up with the self-indulgent wankers of the world, and you don't have to be paid peanuts for what is essentially skipping time with your family to do what you love for yourself. So, that's where I'm at. If I'm going to contribute my ideas and give up my family time to create portraits for a person, if I'm  going to retouch your acne and pretend it wasn't there, I will be fairly compensated for it. If you don't think what I produce is worth what I ask for it, then I'm completely ok with that. Have fun at Sears!

And no, $50 doesn't cover it.

Ok, one last thing, and this one's a biggie...if you're considering hiring me for my creativity and quality, don't take all of my suggestions and try to do them  yourself, horribly executed, in your kitchen with a wrinkly bedsheet for a backdrop. It's tacky and just plain dickish.