It seems to be a common belief – having a nice camera = being a photographer. But the reality is that owning a professional level DSLR (and lenses) is just the most basic requirement of a photography business. Think about it this way – it’s basically the equivalent of saying that because someone has a stethoscope and scrubs, they’re a doctor. Yikes.
I understand why this assumption is often made – they might have the gear, dress the part, have the facebook page or instagram name, a few pretty photos, and people think it’s legit. But there is so much more to running and growing a photography business than that. When I first launched my business in 2011, the biggest piece of the puzzle that I was missing and wouldn’t develop until much later on was providing an experience for my clients. It wasn’t until I was about 5 or 6 years in that I realized I wanted my legacy to be more than just delivering beautiful images – I wanted to foster trust, comfort, and confidence with the friends giving me the opportunity to capture a personal season of their lives. If those pieces were in place, the pretty photos would follow.
“You made me feel so comfortable in my own skin and I truly had SO SO much fun! When I look at the photos I feel a sense of security in exactly how God made me and not one persons opinion could steal the joy captured. When I look at those pictures, I am reminded of my strength, God’s intricacy, hard-work, gratefulness, and all the love the Lord has poured into me these past 5 years at OU.”
You don’t get feedback like that after delivering a gallery simply by snapping a few photos of someone smiling at the camera. The experience is so much more than that – it’s getting to know you, personalizing your session, and doing my job well by finding the best light and backgrounds, directing and posing you in a way that is encouraging and flattering, and selecting locations that compliment your personality, are meaningful, and allow the focus to be on you.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for absolutely everything. I cannot express to you enough how thankful I am that you were the one to capture one last time how big of a blessing this university has been to me. I am so glad that you were apart of my experience at OU! You were yet another reminder of God’s faithfulness and how truly special and magical this university is as well as the kind of friendships that come with it. “
It’s spending time culling for the shots I hope you will love and adore, developing consistency, communicating efficiently, exceeding expectations, and delivering images that (maybe/hopefully) bring you to tears as you look back on your photos for years to come.
“Mel, I’M JUST SITTING HERE IN THE OFFICE CRYING. Thank you for making me feel so beautiful! Thank you a million times! It is people like YOU that in the little moments I see that make it worth sticking around. You deeply love your university and what you do.”
I don’t want to say hi and bye with a few photos in between and a gallery link to wrap things up. I care about you, your dreams, and the adventure you’re on. By celebrating your life and passions, you’re celebrating mine through allowing me the opportunity to be a photographer, and it’s so much more than just a click of a button.