When Kairi was a baby, while searching for Halloween costume to make for a three month old, I got an idea to make her little faerie costumes themed after the four seasons as a cute way of tracking her first year. While the faerie aspect didn’t really stick (we ended up with a faerie, an angel, a ballerina, and a dragonfly), we have four canvas prints of our favorites from each session hanging proudly in our living room. I didn’t take any of those pictures—two sets were taken by one photographer [Shaun Goodman/IMG Photography] , two by another [Courtney Taylor Bowls Photography], both friends my husband made by being a very charming and charismatic barista. Courtney also took a set of Christmas pictures for us one year, as well as newborn and nursing pictures once Sebastian was born. (Check out her work. She is insanely talented and if you ever need a photographer in the Richmond, VA area, use her.)
However…I got a little addicted to having professional quality pictures of my kids. But professional photography is expensive.
Fortunately, by this point I’d learned a little more about digital photography.
When we did our fall session with Kairi, Shaun gave me an overview of some of his lenses, what his favorites were, etc… I ended up buying a lens for myself a few years later, a [lens], that would, unfortunately, be stolen when my car was broken into one night. So after Sebastian was born I decided to go for the lens Shaun had recommended in the first place, a 50mm, f/1.8. I chose [this one] after consulting with Courtney on it, since it was half the price of the name brand, and having just recently changed jobs, cost was a pretty big determining factor in everything we did. I only justified it at all, because I kept getting asked what I was going to do for Sebastian’s four seasons pictures, and I knew there was no way we could afford to book four sessions for him, and I wasn’t 100% certain of how I wanted to do them yet anyway. So I decided to buy the lens and take them myself. They wouldn’t be the same quality as Kairi’s, but if he cares about that when he gets older, I can point out that he had professional newborn pictures and hers were taken with a cell phone—and not even a smart phone at that.
Now, flashback: I took a photography class in high school, back before DSLRs. I used my dad’s old SLR from the 70s, and learned how to develop my own negatives, and print my own pictures. As a teenager, it was easy to believe that I would have a perfect bohemian life of a theater person, where I could write poetry and take pictures on the side, and not care how much money I made because as long as I had a roof and a place to sleep at the end of the day, pursuing my passions was more important than anything. I don’t have that life; instead I have a charming husband, two beautiful kids, a mortgage, a car payment, and an appreciation of expensive beer I’m not fully willing to part with.
But the older I get, the more time my kids take, the more I struggle with depression—the more I find I desperately need artistic outlets. For a very long time, this was fulfilled through cosplay—starting in early college and continuing until Kairi was over a year old, I took to costumes and crafting, reveling in the creation process as much as I did wearing the costumes themselves. But as she got older and time became harder and harder to come by, and as my body changed, cosplay became a chore more than a hobby, and cons were dominated by eating and nap schedules we had little control over.
Enter, writing. Which overlapped with cosplay for a long time. But lately the depression is eating into my ability to write much of anything, much less anything I’m willing to share with anyone else.
But I have a camera lens. And I enjoy taking pictures of my kids, which makes photography something that I can incorporate into motherhood a lot more easily than crafting or writing—at least while they are this little. And it’s something that is easier for me to accept being only okay with, because I am so far behind the curve with technology that no matter how much I might develop my own skills, I will never really be able to compete without spending money on new lenses, and on editing software.
I’m not sure what my next steps are right now. I’ve gotten comfortable enough with my camera on candid shots of my own kids that I want to start moving onto something else, but I’m not sure what. Posed shots, I think. And other people’s kids, for sure. It’s easier with my own children, because I know their moods, I can predict their behavior (a little bit, at least), and I know what environments they are going to be the most comfortable in. Plus there’s just the anxiety of “will these shots be worth this person’s time?” I’ve taken a couple of pictures for a friend—her daughter’s Christmas card pictures last year, and a couple of maternity shots for her this weekend, and while she claims to love them, how do I know she’s not just being nice? Taking pictures of my kids I can watch and wait, and take a picture when the moment feels right. Setting a time and place for someone else puts the quality of the shot entirely on my skill level—which is not that high. But the only way to develop that of course, is to just do it.
I’ll make money with it one day. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over the anxiety hurdle for photography to be my primary source of income, but I think I can handle charging budget prices to bring in a little bit of extra income–and add a little bit more art to my life, and to the lives of others.