Monday, December 17, 2012

On Why I'm Not A Pro...Anything Right Now

I had the pleasure of shooting a friend's Christmas card and newborn photos today. This particular friend is one of my oldest California friends. Her daughters are close enough in age to my sons that I harbor fantasies of calling them my in-laws one day (just kidding. [not really.])

Because we both live in newborn land (and her 'hood also includes graduate school) nothing happens on the timeline we envision. Nothing. Which works out nicely because it meant that neither of us was too bothered when 10am became 11 and then 11:30 and then I finally made the 5 minute drive to arrive promptly at about noon.

Two hours and 242 images later, she has a few keepers and a few that will be great if either of us can muster to time/energy to edit them.

She hadn't hired a pro (and we know some good pros) partly because of budgetary concerns and I understand both sides of that. On the one hand...they're photos. Every gadget on the planet has a camera in it and we tend to want to document every single moment of our lives. Paying hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for photos feels low on the totem of budgetary line-items. I have placed it there myself. We would not have had our Christmas card photo were it not for a lucky opening in the mini-sessions being offered by a friend/pro of ours. On the other hand - you want photos that capture your important moments and sometimes you rearrange and write the check.

But I can see why the pros charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you are the one who has put in the time to learn your craft, the money to learn even more, the money and time to invest in and then master your equipment, and you spend hours with your clients and many more editing... and then you have someone call you to tell you "well, those are nice, but my husband can take those in our living room with a disposable camera..." Well, that makes you want to throw your shoe at them. Or start drinking before your shift at the mall photo studio is over. (Not kidding. That's a direct quote and it was the first time I ever wanted to scream at a client. The photos I got were so beautiful that corporate sent 16x20s to every studio to hang on their walls and put it on their website. It was a rare session where the stars aligned and there was no need for post-processing. In a mall studio. In 2002.

And now I'm looking at 242 images of my friends being thankful that I do not have an editing deadline aside from the casual "let me know if there's one you want me to fix for your card" - I get to take my time with these and enjoy them. I get to be excited at the finished product. I got to stand around and taste olive oil from their Greek trip and hear songs from their 3 year old. My payment was cookies and film (!!) It was a treat and not a job. It is a pleasure and not a chore. Long live the barter system.

The same is true of writing. I write for the Natural Parents Network. For free. Because I love to write, because I believe in their mission, and because (is this redundant?) I love to hand out unsolicited advice.

Here's some:

Read this book.

Listen to this song.

Subscribe to this podcast.

Make any -or all - of these cookies.

Call your mother. ;-)

Find things to do that fill in this blank:

"__________ is like sex. If I like you and you appreciate it, it is free. Otherwise you can't pay me enough."

Happy Holidays!

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