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Finding My Passion: Click Away 2014

I attended the first annual Click Away conference put on by Clickin’ Moms in Salt Lake City last week. I met up with my high school friend (and talented photographer), Amanda Lassiter, as well as one of her childhood friends (another talented photographer), Erin Hughes.  The three of us had so much fun, it was a trip of a lifetime.  The fact that we got to learn more about photography while we were there was an added bonus.  I was hoping to walk away from this conference with more knowledge about my camera, some editing tips and even some business advice. I came home not only more knowledgeable in those areas, but feeling so inspired. I’ll get to that, but first take a look at just a couple of the beautiful spots in Salt Lake City that we got to visit.

The photo below is from Saltair, a park area on the Great Salt Lake.  There was a guided group going with our conference, but the spots were taken well before our little group registered for the conference.  We decided to be wild and crazy and rent a car to get there.  So glad we decided to do this, because this place was magical.  The light was incredible.  It was truly breathtaking.

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Another place we got to visit was Silver Lake.  We had to get on a charter bus and went through hair pin turns, hills and valleys to get to this beautiful spot.  It was a little lake nestled in the mountains. The water was so clear you could see the ducks’ feet as they paddled away.  🙂

 

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Two of the classes that resonated with me the most were The Senior Experience with Meg Borders and More Than A Pose with Sue Bryce.  Meg Borders made a lightbulb go off.  She stated that photography was not her passion.  Working with senior girls and boosting their confidence was her passion.  Photography was just a tool to do it.  I have been a “photographer” (I still have a hard time labeling myself as that) for over 4 years now.  Up until now, I have been shooting a little bit of everything, mainly families with some weddings and newborns thrown in there.  I had some friends that shot seniors in Nashville and I loved looking at their work, but never thought that was my “thing”.  Ever since I started this photography journey, I have struggled trying to figure out why I haven’t reached my market yet.  I’m not as creative as so-and-so.  I’m not as good at editing as so-and-so.  My website isn’t as good as so-and-so’s.  My camera isn’t as good as so-and-so’s.  I have awesome families that I enjoy seeing every year, but where are these other photographers picking up new families to fill up spots throughout the off season? Why can’t I stay busy consistently?

Upon moving to Texas, I decided I’d try my hand with high school seniors, just for fun, while I was building a new clientele.  I took my husband’s cousin and her three girls out for a session last fall.  I had so much fun posing and interacting with all three girls, but especially the teenagers.  Then I took the oldest out again for her very own session.  That last session got featured on Senior Style Guide.  Very exciting for me!  Fast forward a few months (and a baby) later and I had local girls in my town calling me for last minute senior sessions before graduation.  I believe I shot 11 girls in 8 weeks.  It was a blast.  I loved incorporating everyone’s personality into their session.  I loved getting these beautiful portraits, showing them on the back of my camera and seeing their faces light up.  I loved the wonderful comments they’d get from their peers on Instagram.  What an experience for them to leave our session with a big smile on their face, and also what an experience for me to feel like I contributed to their confidence level.  I love working with senior girls and it took flying to Salt Lake City and listening to Meg Borders speak to realize why.  It’s not about the beautiful portraits that we get and the prints hanging on the wall.  It’s about the experience.  It’s about the genuine smiles that I get when they see the final product and how beautiful they are.

While in Salt Lake City, we didn’t have sessions lined up or models in place, so my two friends and I reluctantly posed for each other.  Between the three of us, we have spent the past 4+ years being pregnant.  All three of us were self conscious of our bodies when being photographed.  It wasn’t until I was editing the photos when I got home that it hit me.  It’s not only teenage girls who struggle with self esteem issues.  It’s women of all ages, all stages of life, all body types.  Why can’t I photograph a 30 year old woman who spends the majority of her days in yoga pants, covered in a healthy mixture baby spit up and snot?  Why can’t I get her makeup done, stylize her session and photograph her to put a big smile on her face?  She totally deserves the 2+ hours away from the house, away from her kids and her to-do list.  This is where Sue Bryce’s lecture came back to my head.  She stated that everybody can photograph a 20 year old professional model.  That’s easy.  Why don’t you photograph the everyday woman and make it mean so much more?  Whether it’s a high school senior, a new mom that never spends time or money on herself, or the 50+ woman who has finally started to feel comfortable in her own skin.  It’s about confidence.  It’s about personality.  It’s about inner beauty.  It’s about freaking time you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and just be happy with who you are!

I’ve heard many business/motivational speakers state that you should figure out what you love doing and do it.  Find something that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid.  This is it, my friends.  Can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out.  It wasn’t even on my radar for the first 4 years I was in business.  Every photographer has a niche that they favor.  Some feel connected to shooting newborns, the love story of weddings or the bond of a young family.  That’s what is so great about photography.  There are so many avenues, so many translations, so many facets to photography.  Find yours and run with it!

I want you to look at the portrait below.  It’s of my beautiful friend, Amanda.  While in Salt Lake City, we spent most of our time capturing portraits with the beautiful surroundings.  So glad we did that, but I wanted to get in close for a shot.  You can’t tell whether it’s in Salt Lake City or in the backyard of my house in Royse City, Texas.  It doesn’t really even matter.  You just see her.

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I leave you with the rest of my shots from my beautiful mom friends who spend their days chasing their kids and their evenings chasing their client’s kids.  They are hard working women who deserve portraits to showcase their beauty.  To have for their kids.  I look at professional portraits of my grandmothers from the 40’s and 50’s and think of what classic beauties they are.  I don’t want to spend so much time trying to lose the baby weight, grow out my hair, save up for a new wardrobe, etc. and not give my children anything tangible to remember me by.

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