I said it, and I believe it! There are a handful of photographers I have spoken to throughout my career who have never stepped in front of the camera. Yes, pictures have been taken of them, but they have never been a subject or a client. If they are a talented photographer then what does it matter? In my opinion, it matters a LOT! A gifted photographer, Connie Leal, asked to take my picture many many years ago and a modeling contract followed, along with my desire to become a photographer. Having been on both sides of the camera I’ve learned a few things and want to share a few of them with you. So, photographers, put down the camera and start working those angles!
#5- If you expect it, you shall do it.
As a photographer you bank on people paying you for your services. Whether you shoot fine art, capture portraits, or document events you are providing a service and in exchange for that service your get paid, right? How can you expect someone to pay you for your work, if you’re not willing to pay for the same service yourself? I can almost bet that as a photographer you have been asked to work for free at least once. We want to be valued as an artist and as a business person, so let’s spread that karma around and value our fellow artists.
#4- It will make you feel amazing!
Have you ever had a reveal and your client is moved to tears? Or once the gallery link has been opened your phone blows up with texts of thanks and praise? That is such an amazing feeling! As a photographer that is a gift we are able to give, we freeze time! Memories are captured and will be shared for lifetimes to come. But, have you been moved to tears, or blown up a photographers phone with no regard for your data plan? Has seeing a picture of yourself made you say, “wait, what? That’s me” with a smile across your face? You deserve to experience that euphoric feeling that you give to others. You’re worth it!
Photography isn’t about ISO, aperture, shutter speeds, golden hour, rule of thirds, and so on and so forth. It’s about communicating with people, and building a rapport so memories can be captured, art can be created, and so that people can build relationships. Being in front of the camera you are the subject and the photographer will guide you into poses and looks. Have you ever had a client that just didn’t understand your direction? Saying the same thing over and over won’t help. So slide into their shoes, and see what works and what didn’t make sense. Does your photographer say, “Move your head this way,” or do they mirror you, gesture, and guide you into the pose? “Bring your chin forward, now tilt your head down, roll your shoulder forward, and weight on your back foot, perfect! Now small smile! Fantastic!” The last statement doesn’t allow the client to think about how uncomfortable they might be, they simply follow directions. And if you’ve experienced getting this direction, you’ll be better at giving this direction.
#2- Actions speak louder than words
Now this one may be a little controversial. I follow a lot of photographers on Instagram, Facebook, Pintrest, and different forums. One thing that I see that makes me cringe is when they say something like “I am a master at ______ an expert at_____, etc. And those ______’s could be “styling”, “posing”, “lighting”, “communicating”, “editing”, you get the idea. Instead of making these declarations, show them. Your portfolio is huge. It shows the work that you’ve done and more often than not will show future clients if your style is a good fit for them. In addition to your portfolio, show them you are a great stylist by coming up with a concept shoot, that you style, (hair, makeup, wardrobe, props, etc), show them you are a master poser by POSING in FRONT of the Camera, not hiding behind it! We have all had those clients that move so well with little direction from us. It’s like a gift from the heaven’s (Hello Gerald)! So show your clients you can move, you can pose, you understand that it might a little nerve-wracking getting your photograph taken, by GETTING your photograph taken!
#1- Being behind the camera doesn’t show future generations who you were, it shows what you did.
A common sadness that every member of my family has, is that there are not more pictures of my Mimi. She passed away when I was a junior in college and we wish that she could have lived a longer life. We wish she would have been around to see us all grow into the human beings we are now. I know we aren’t the only ones that feel that way. As photographers we do a really good job of capturing memories for those around us, but not for us. I am sure we are all the designated picture snapper for our families, but are you in the photos? Is anyone capturing the fact that you were there? I know my Mimi was behind the camera, and now that she is gone I really wish she were in front of it. I know your family will wish that too!
Everyone has their own reasons for being behind the camera and in front of it. I am honored to have captured some special moments for the following photographers: Brittany Deacon, Alexyss Marie, Tamara Picazo, and Matt Spanne.
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