In the later part of 2015 I narrowed down my life focus and decided to go full-time with my wedding photography business, even though it’s been my second full-time job for a few years now. As many of you know, we welcomed an awesome little addition to our family late last year and so I have spent my days caring for our baby boy and building my business. I can’t even tell you what an honor and privilege it has been to be his prominent caretaker. For anyone who has spent time at home with just a child and a dog, you know pretty well that you have a LOT of time to think. This has been both trying at times and extremely rewarding, especially for my business. I’m finally getting the time to invest in the details of my brand. I have been overhauling my products, my catalogs and adding a little spit polish to my brand. I have business ‘bucket-list’ goals that had been gathering dust for about five years. I’m so proud to say that in 2016, I’ve accomplished nearly all of them. This extra time to think and gather my thoughts has helped me to become laser focused on how I want to interact with the world on a professional level. I suppose this means being a little more vulnerable in public as well, which is why I’ve sprinkled some personal blogs in with the professional ones. I think what makes small businesses so interesting is that they are run by real people, with real, imperfect lives. So, my long-drawn out point is, I’m so proud of where I’m headed, I feel blessed that I have the time and energy to create something really special every single day, and I’m so excited to say that 2016 has by far been my best year yet.
With my brand overhaul has come a new catalog design. This might not sound like much, but it was one of those bucket list projects that had been pushed to the back-burner for a long time. With it comes the dreaded “about-me” section. This has always been a weak spot for me. So much so, that my placeholder text on my website quickly became the permanent text. I think it’s really hard to narrow down the most important things about yourself and the methodology behind your business, all without sounding cliche or like I’m some born-again and photography is my salvation. I searched everywhere for some creative ways do describe who I was. I looked for inspiration in even the strangest of places…until one day I was reading the description of my coffee label. “Complex and Aromatic”, it read. Am I complex and aromatic?
My story is a little different. I didn’t just discover photography one day and have it ‘become’ my passion. It was always something that was in my life, along with many kinds of music, art and culture. My whole immediate family (mother, brother, father) has always had these artistic leanings. My father, however, especially gravitated towards photography. Growing up discussing cameras, composition and lighting helped me and my Dad create a special bond. It just seemed like photography was in our blood. And then recently, something extraordinary happened.
My Dad used to shoot his vacation photos on slide film. This year he took it upon himself to scan the 20,000 of them he had in storage boxes, converting them in to digital files. Yes, you read that right….20,000. This is basically my entire childhood, my older brother’s entire childhood, and the early years of my Mom and Dad’s marriage. These were photos I had never seen before. While he was scanning in all of these hidden gems, he came upon a box of slides him and my mother had saved from my Mom’s Dad’s house (my Grandfather). When my Mom was little, her family lived in both New Zealand and Japan for the first five years of her life. When my Dad began to scan in my Grandfather’s slides, a whole new world was opened. Photos from my mom’s childhood were all of a sudden in full vivid color. As it turns out, my Grandfather was a photographer too! Scenes of rural Japanese markets, shipyards and temples were suddenly resurrected from the past. It was like a doorway had been opened and a unique story was being told about those five years that happened so long ago.
Talking with my dad about my Grandfather on my mom’s side being a photographer, he also disclosed that his father and Grandfather (my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather) were also photographers. In fact, he told me my great grandfather had one of the first commercially available cameras from around 1900, including a Kodak Brownie and a couple of folding German cameras.
Photography has always had a kind of mysterious intrigue for me, but I think the story of my Grandfather’s photos sums up why I love the craft….it’s magical. The photographic medium transcends space and time and unites us with the simple beautiful moments that make us human. Photographs act like bookmarks in the story of our lives. As the years pass, these small flashes in time can be revisited over and over again and serve as reminders of a life well-lived. For me, there’s a lot of joy that comes with being able to provide my clients with beautiful imagery that will exceed their lifetime and act as a future doorway back to today.
In searching for content for my “about me” section, I found out so much more about my family. Interestingly enough, what makes me “me” may have just as much to do with the people and experiences that came before my time.
Profile Photo courtesy of Sarah Williamson