EyeDoc – I had a very successful business when I shot film exclusively, and when digital was just becoming common, but I’m not actually charging anyone right now. I did shoot two weddings for friends and family that would otherwise not have had a photographer at all. The rest has been getting back into things.
I’ve made some observations along the way. When I shot film in California and Australia, my clients posed themselves. They knew which side was their good side, how to stand, and what to do with their hands, so they required very little direction, and were comfortable in front of the camera. It would seem that in Utah, formal portraits are completely foreign. People are simply not used to sitting in an actual studio. I’ve also noticed that people are spending more time manipulating their images and less time on the basics. Stacking and HDR are fine when appropriate, and can enhance an image. But manipulation for the sake of manipulation has no appeal for me. Ideally, I would like to produce digital images that have the look of the classic portraits I took with my medium format cameras. If they are manipulated, I don’t want them to look like they have been.
I’m the first to admit that I have made some mistakes as I get back into photography. But I also believe that in many ways, digital has ruined the art behind the craft of creating good photos. Film forced photographers to get it right the first time – bad images cost money. As an event photographer, I was sometimes given a single roll of film, with the expectation that 36 sharp, well composed, properly exposed images would be delivered to the client. It was a very fast-paced environment, shooting up to 4 events in one location at the same time. That meant four bodies, one lens, and an RC car battery strapped to a 285. When reportage was popular, I fit right in. My wedding clients always commented that they never really saw me during the reception, yet I seemed to have caught every important moment. That work paid for my cameras, multiple cars, and most of my mortgage payment, so I am inclined to think I could not have been too bad at it.
In college, I took photography, art classes focusing on composition and use of color, and even an offset printing course, which helped me with shooting for print. As someone rightly alluded to, I also aced quite a few business and marketing courses. Perhaps I have forgotten a lot of what I learned, but I’ve taken up photography again because I enjoyed it, I liked making my clients look good, and I got a great deal of satisfaction from seeing their reaction when I delivered their prints. It may take some time to get back up to speed, but I’m not in a position where I need to profit from it. All my equipment is paid for, and we’ve dedicated a 15×20 room in our house for portrait work. My office has a smaller area for shooting products for an online magazine. And recently, my daughter could be found running around with her camera in one hand, and a grey card in the other.
That’s quite a novel I’ve written. To anyone that has read it this far, I want to thank you for your time. If you’re one of the few that posted helpful comments, I do appreciate it. For those that forgot that they were once beginners and had nothing nice to say, well, they can kiss my ass. And I mean that in the nicest way.