Last weekend was a landmark moment for my photography. It was the first time I went out somewhere specifically to shoot at the request of someone else. You could say, a client.
I won’t say a client, because it is an old friend and they are not paying any more than covering my expenses. Even so, this is the first time I have travelled somewhere with the sole intention of taking photos, at the request of someone else.
So, what was I doing? The same thing most hobbyists seem to do first; taking photos of my friends kids. The weekend’s activities were kinda specific. My friend wanted to get some nice, ‘un-posed’ shots of her kids as a present for Dads birthday. Something I couldn’t say no to really.
Brighton was the scene and the kids, A 3-year-old and an 8-month baby were lovely and challenging all at the same time. I decided that the only way to approach was to forget about trying to get them to pose and simply get down on the floor and play with them. I literally spent the day crawling on the ground, getting filthy!
The eldest was a bit, “don’t take photos of me” at first, but if I am honest, he was faking it. I have never seen such a poser, apart from my brother. The little one…. Oh Lord! I’m sure mummy wont mind me saying that I have never met a child who has perfected the, “go away, I hate you” look with such precision. Genuinely, I took 400 photos in a 4 hour session, 2 of them show Indy smiling; the rest, looking directly at the camera with a, ‘I’m gonna find you and kill you’ look.
What did I get from the day? Plenty is the short answer. While I really like the Journalistic approach to just spending a day taking snaps, I can see why a studio environment is often preferred by many people. I really don’t think it is my thing though. Some of my favourite shots from the day were the quirky, opportunistic photos, taken when the kids were at ease and just playing. Something I am reasonably confident could never happen in a studio environment.
Having said that, I could have directed the thing a little better and was a little passive. Once I had earned the trust of the eldest. I should have used that to get him to spend more time with his little sister. Something I will make a point of trying more in the future, for sure.
Then there is the editing process. This was the bit where, I think I am starting to get an understanding of why professional photogs charge so much money for their services. As mentioned above, I spent 4 hours with the family. I have spent at least 20 hours+ editing. The most difficult part was having a conversation with the parent, who was looking to make changes to photos. Asking for black and white conversations of photos I knew looked better in colour. Something I have no idea how to handle. Of course I gave Mum what she wanted, but I’ll be honest, she didn’t get the best photos she could have had.
This whole concept of me lacking creative control bothers me a bit. I suspect that, if I am ever going to do this for money in the future, I will have to get used to it. I wonder how professional photogs deal with this, or if it is just accepted, much like a movie editor has to follow the directors wishes.
Thankfully I have a long way to go before I have to worry about that!
For now I am super grateful to my friend for letting me spend the day snapping her lovely children. I have learned loads, and hopefully at the end of it, she has a few nice photos that will make a nice birthday present for Dad.
There are a couple of the photos in this article and more over in the projects section of this site. Feel free to comment and offer any advice. I am always happy to learn.
This is a journey, and so far I am thoroughly enjoying it.