For almost as long as I’ve been a working photographer, I’ve been known as a specialist in headshot photography.
Which is in no way incorrect. I’ve certainly invested a lot of time and energy into branding myself as such. Into learning from the best, how to bring the best out in my clients… especially as it relates to headshots. I’ve built a successful business around headshots. Earned recognition for being one of an elite group within the industry. And through it I’ve met, and worked with, some absolutely amazing people.
It is, and probably always will be, where I focus the majority of my photography related pushing.
However; it’s also not the whole of what I can do.
For almost as long as I’ve been a working photographer, I’ve always made an effort to try new styles. To try shooting within genres I wouldn’t normally work in.
It’s my way to break up the monotony that is inherent in specialty.
With varying degrees of success I’ve played at doing beauty work… fashion… glamour. Always remaining about the people (my true passion) and always maintaining my love of minimalism.
I would try to emulate the styles of the photographers whose work I enjoy. Example; I LOVE the work of Lindsay Adler… Mark Seliger… so many others.
I created a sort of separation between my headshot photography and everything else I shoot. Headshots are my business, everything else was just me having fun. Success, or the lack of it, didn’t matter to me because this other work was shot only for me.
And I continued working this way, shooting these other styles in the background, without much thought towards where they may take me. It came as a complete surprise when the recognition I was receiving (as a photographer) started to shift towards this other work.
Little things really… comments dropped by photographers I have a lot of respect for, telling me how much they were loving my more creative portraits. Telling me not to stop shooting in these styles, because even compared to my headshots, they really stand out.
On a whim I entered some portraits into the Portrait Master’s Awards and Accreditation panel, and everything I entered received an award.
I think it’s time I consider putting some real effort in to pushing what I can do within these other genres.
So I’ve decided to invest some time and energy into creative portraiture.
I invested in some books and video workshops to kickstart the process.
Lindsay Adler’s “The Photographers Guide To Posing” has become almost my bible… I’m a headshot photographer, I had no idea what to do with anything below the shoulders. Sat in on a webinar, and through it invested in a series of posing videos. Amazing.
Felix Kunze’s “The Lighting Series” completely changed the way I looked at studio lighting. Watching his workshop was essentially one light bulb moment after another… and the work you’re seeing in this post is entirely the result of what I learned from him.
If I can diverge for a second… many of you know this but I’m fifteen years into a military career. Within the military I have taken courses on how to instruct, and how to lead. I’ve put myself through post secondary education twice. All that to say I know there are people who can teach, and people who can’t. Of all the workshops I’ve attended - the two mentioned above (along with Peter Hurley of course) are in my opinion the best photography educators out there. How they talk, the energy and passion they possess, the way they explain things… you cannot go wrong investing in anything either publishes.
Truth be told, I have no idea where chasing this new style is going to take me.
I don’t really care either, all I know is that right now I’m having a lot of fun seeing what I can do. Seeing how far I can push myself. Since starting down this new path I feel incredibly motivated all over again.
I’ve decided, at least for now, to keep the separation I’ve built between the two styles. To that end I’ve built both a new Facebook and Instagram page to build on that separation… it makes no sense for a headshot client to go to a landing page and see my attempts at experimentation outside of headshots.
This is kind of a fresh start, and I won’t lie, it feels really good.
I keep saying it, I am a photographer who specializes in headshot photography… but perhaps it’s time I add to what I can offer?
Becoming a photographer was never something I aspired to do.
Nor was it something that occurred naturally for me.
Contrasting with most of my peers; I wasn’t exposed to cameras at a young age, or introduced to the arts early in my life. The opposite is closer to the truth – my father was an army Warrant Officer, and I failed art in high school - our family didn’t exactly exude creativity.
So when I did become a photographer, much later in my life, it was a pretty significant transition. A shift in mindset that only occurred through extraordinary reason and purpose. And while I now share the same passion as my peers, I also believe my motivation comes from an entirely different place. We love the same things, but why I love them is completely unique to me.
For most of my youth I suffered from the effects of having a very low self-esteem. My self-confidence was negligible, and I required almost constant praise to feel good about myself. No sympathy required, I’m no longer that person – not for a long time now. I mention it only as that part of my life is what laid the foundation for my discovering photography.
With age and accomplishment, I learned to love myself (if you’ll allow me to be cliché). However, having felt what it’s like to not, I also developed this driving need to help others suffering similarly.
My passion for photography developed organically from this.
In wanting to help others, I tried many different things, and developed many different tools. I trained as a harassment adviser, and as a conflict resolution adviser. I took leadership courses and began mentoring. Yet it was through a passing request, to take some photos for some friends, that I discovered the power of a simple photograph - and I was hooked.
Photography has this amazing ability to capture what’s in front of us, and highlight the best parts of it. Including of people, a portrait as it were, which when done well has the ability to make anyone feel amazing. It allowed me to show people what I saw when I looked at them. It accomplished exactly what I was hoping to do.
And so photography became a very altruistic endeavor for me. It was my means to give back, and the tool I used to help people learn to love themselves. My method of empowerment.
If I could sum up my work in as few words as possible, it would be this: people are my passion, photography only a tool.
Over the years since my work has grown, and evolved, always with that simple purpose in mind. I’ve tried my hand at different genres, but always keeping to this premise. I’ve kept myself pushing in directions that would best allow me to accomplish this. And even now, as I turn my photography into a viable business, this idea is built into my process.
Because the best feeling in the world to me, is watching someone express, how good I’ve helped them feel.
This is why I became a photographer.