That’s my friend Amy. Please note that she is holding coffee, wearing one of my gear bags, and wearing the Intern orange badge. I cannot thank her enough for helping me out all weekend.
I landed in Phoenix, Az. last Friday and basically started shooting the moment the plane touched down. I went to high school in Phoenix (Tolleson!) and my parents still live here so it’s always nice to visit them – of course, if I can knock out a few portrait sessions on the same trip – that’s even better.
Now – Everything I do is probably part of some kind of experiment I’m running – some new idea I’m testing out – and that’s a good thing for the Interns since they eventually benefit from whatever I learn or find out that works (or what I learn doesn’t work).
For this trip in particular, I was really interested in figuring out how to book as many portrait sessions as I could while I was in Phoenix. Of course doing that from Atlanta seemed like an interesting challenge – but hey, I organized and put together a workshop in Montreal, Canada from Atlanta so booking a few portrait sessions shouldn’t be too difficult right? (Other than the ones for our Interns, that Montreal workshop was the first one ever, and now we’re confirmed to teach one in Kathmandu, Nepal next month.)
One thing that I knew for certain was that I would need an assistant. So I asked one of my best friends from high school (Amy!) to help out over the weekend. I had a few other options as far as assistants, but things got really crazy and after partying too hard on the first night with Amy and another friend from high school (Michelle!) – I was pretty delirious and shooting with half of my brain from Saturday through the end of Monday. Luckily, no matter what, I’ll always wake up to start shooting (just ask Leah).
Still. I think I figured a few things out about getting more photography ‘work’, managing a schedule, and… drinking lots of coffee. Of course, it’s not like I’m completely clueless on the ways of getting paid work – but coming up with new ideas and methods is always a positive. Not only that – but these are ideas I can share with the Interns so that they can use them to get new paying work.
Because the fact is – I think it’s a unique thing that I convinced a family to drive from El Paso, Tx., to Phoenix, Az., for their maternity session, another family to drive the 3+ hours from Northern Arizona, and three friends who I haven’t seen since high school to drag their families out into the windy, cold, and sometimes rainy conditions for a portrait session. Yes – it was raining during one of the sessions and we just waited it out underneath some trees.
Remember, Leah and I like to say that nothing we do is secret, but not everyone knows everything we do.
Leah arrives in Phoenix on Thanksgiving and then we’re here until Tuesday. With all of the photoshoots we’ve been doing lately – there’s quite the backlog of editing. It’s an all out war on editing right now since I’m flying out to Kathmandu, Nepal on December 6th and staying there until the 23rd.
I always tell our Interns not to rely on ‘interesting’ subjects to ‘make’ your photo. Far too many photographers do that – with their TFP model shoots, using makeup artists and hair stylists (TFP = trade for print). Early on, it’s too much of a crutch. It’s a distraction from what you should really be doing as a people photographer – connecting with your subjects.
Except for the family that drove from El Paso, I basically didn’t know any of my clients this weekend. Sure I knew some of them a little bit from high school – but that was over 10 years ago (what?!).
Everything was like herding cats at times – but in the best kind of way. You might notice that we make it a point to get people to look right into our lens. It takes time. Kids aren’t always in the mood. Heck – adults aren’t always in the mood. I do a lot of talking. Imagine how much talking I might do – and then triple that – I talk a lot and I get the clients to talk a lot. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s… less easy.
But you have to be confident in your ‘people’ skills if you’re willing to fly across the country and spend 5-6 hours with a couple you’ve never met before, follow them around like papparazzi and basically have a camera in their face the entire time. Last Monday I did just that – with Emily & Ben. They hired us to photograph their wedding in Ojai, Ca., and this was their engagement session. I flew into Ontario, Ca. Monday morning, hung out with them for 6 hours and then flew back to Phoenix that same night.
There is a big difference between a 2 hour session and a 6 hour session of constant photographing.
No matter what though – your job as a photographer is to get the clients to a point where they’re no longer uncomfortable in front of your lens. Not the lens. Your lens.
I’ll be editing for the next two weeks… and we’ll be posting again soon. Until then, have a great Thanksgiving.
Atlanta. Phoenix. California. Photographers. Weddings. Family. Portraits.