My 9-hour drives to PA are made a lot more enjoyable by my satellite radio. Last week as I was driving home I was channel surfing and came across a talk show where they were discussing how to avoid the high cost of professional photography for a wedding. Basically the dilemma was how to get high quality, artistic, out-of-the-box different, reliable serviceÖwithout actually paying much for it. Callers talked about their experiences using a friend, an art or photography student, a hobbyist, or someone who does it on the side without a registered (ie, tax paying) business. Several said they were thrilled with their choices, and some said they were sorely disappointed.
Let me say that I am in a fairly contemplative mood nowadays, as I just had another birthday and we are preparing to move into our dream home in just over a week. But I feel like I just have to share my thoughts on this topic, as it is a question that I myself struggled with as a young mom Ė why custom photography?
I have always loved photography, even more so when I had children and wanted to capture my wonder at their beauty and their personalities. I knew I didnít want to forget any of it. I spent so much time trying to breathe in the moments, burn what they were like into my memory forever. I seriously did not believe that I would ever forget the way they looked, sounded, smelled, laughed. I almost didnít even bother labeling the backs of photographs with dates and ages Ė I knew that I would instantly remember what age they were in those images, and where it was taken and why.
I was pretty good with a camera, and I was proud of a lot of the images I captured of their sweet faces and expressions and little outfits. I got lots of fun photojournalistic shots that I thought were very cool. I didnít feel like I needed to spend money on custom photography when I took such great pictures, and besides, there were cute outfits to buy.
Well here it is, nearly thirty years later. The girls are grown, and Iím a nanna. I have been packing up old photo albums and scrapbooks for our move and have had some very sweet moments looking through them. But my underlying thought when I look at them is a feeling of a job not quite complete, and certainly not worthy of its goal of capturing my children completely and beautifully.
What I didnít realize is that my ďmommy gogglesĒ colored the greatness of those pictures I took. At the time, my heart filled in the slight blur, the poor color, the over or underexposures. All I could see were my kids, like a mom views a childís crayon drawing with pride because her darling produced it. And guess what? The memories do fade. I have to try to decipher an unmarked photo Ė sometimes I canít even tell which baby it is!
I want to encourage all of you to take lots of photos, learn all you can about photography, document every happy moment. But I also want to share my experience with you in the hopes that you will not repeat my misguided mistakes. Especially in this economy it is important to cut back on unnecessary expenses, and certainly custom photography is a luxury. But I will tell you that it is one luxury that I wish I would have dedicated more resources to. I always managed to buy them cute clothes that are now so forgotten that it isnít even funny. I took them to chain store studios to save money, but those images of them with giant bunnies for Easter are not something I would display in my home as art now. How I wish I would have supplemented my own pictures with professional ones!
Over the next few weeks I will be writing about all of the things that make custom photography worth it Ė and why it costs what it does. I donít want to convince you just because Iím now a professional photographer (!). Itís because I want to make sure that you donít have the same sense of loss that I do when the day comes that you have to pack up your own albums. And that day will come faster than you can believe possible.
(Anderson SC photographer, Lake Keowee Photographer, Washington PA photographer)