Marj Merges Beautiful. Honest. You. {and me}

Leila’s House

What does it take to be a photographer?  Besides an “eye” as they say.  I mean really what do you need to do to get beyond this invisible barrier between hobbyist and professional?  The line is blurry these days.  Good cameras that can produce awesome images for the right user are available to anyone who has a little money to drop on a DSLR.  So owning a DSLR must not be a criteria.  But then, what is?  Is it being paid for your photos?  When I was shooting all my free shoots in Atlanta during my internship I asked Mark when I should think about charging.  He told me I should charge when I knew I could nail the shoot.  If I still didn’t know if I’d be able to deliver good quality images to my clients then I should be working for free.  I crossed that line long ago (when your career is seven months long long ago is equivalent to months) but I still don’t know if I’m a photographer.  I mean I am but there’s this hesitation in me.

And then I saw this session on Offbeat Mama and I felt better.  Because I realized I was beginning to question if my non-intervention style meant I was still a photographer.  I don’t like to pose my clients.  I just don’t like the pictures that come out of posing of families and couples.  I’m trying my best to set-up situations where I can capture those in-between moments.  Those moments where a family is just living their lives.  So sometimes I pose but really what I’m looking for is what happens as that pose forms or as it dismantles.  It’s something I’m still trying to figure out.  And it varies with each shoot.  Sometimes you need to pose in order to get beyond standing awkwardly still.  And sometimes interrupting to pose just gets in the way.

This shoot with Leila and her parents challenged me.  I didn’t pose them but in this case it was more that it’s insanely difficult to get a toddler this age to sit in one place and look at the camera and do whatever else you want at the same time.  It challenged me because Leila kept moving.  Kept moving fast and back and forth between all sorts of lighting conditions.  And I hardly had the mental space and time to frame a picture before we were moving on to the next thing.  I was more reactionary than I’d like to be.  I got some wonderful pictures and I hope they love the ones I got but I wouldn’t say I nailed this shoot.  I survived it.  But then what does that mean as my status as photographer?  I believe it’s best to be honest.  To not claim to have created amazing, awesome pictures without a struggle.  Because I think the process is important.  The places where I falter and learn, those are important.  That’s why I post every shoot I do on here.

Thank you to Leila, Mark, and Amber for challenging me.  And viewers, enjoy your peak into Leila’s house (cardboard and otherwise).

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