2014 has been an exciting year so far. We welcomed our third baby boy and life has not slowed down at all. Growing our trio of gents has happily taken up much of our time. Making sure I am getting them out, mastering finger painting, and working on my own fears of admitting my middle dude is ready to take off his training wheels. To keep things interesting, we are in the process of building our very first detached, stick-built home, with a natural light studio on a northern lake surrounded by incredible neighbours. And somewhere in the mix of keeping up with my equally as busy clients and friends, I realized that this July is my tenniversary- ten fabulous years of photographing northerners in their element, with their most precious people. Ten years of love, laughter, tears and wonder. That’s 120 months or 522 weeks or 3652 days or 87648 hours or 5 258 880 minutes or 315 532 800 seconds of experimenting, dreaming, creating and learning- and I cannot picture another ten without it or any of you! During that time I have gone through 3 camera bags, 4 flashes, 4 computers, 6 cameras, a few dozen memory cards and an obscene amount of shutters releases.
I feel so blessed to spend my days capturing and archiving such incredible people doing what they adore with the people they love. I feel honoured that my clients walk through my doors, sometimes for the very first time and trust me with their brand new one week old bundles of joy. I feel humbled when a woman bares her soul to me during a boudoir session and trusts me to capture her timeless beauty. I still can’t make it through a wedding without a few tears as if I am witnessing the nuptials of my own best friend- and the father-daughter dances, well don’t get me started. I feel inspired when I pitch a crazy sounding idea and a client responds, ‘anything you want, we trust you’ and it is the freedom of limitless cretivity that keeps this job as inspiring as it is challenging.
When I first came home from post-secondary, excited to dive into the wonderful world of photography, I decided to call every photographer in town and introduce myself. I felt nauseous. Terrified. Clamy. At that time I did not have too many phone calls to make. I called a couple of people. Some answered the phone, some did not. Those that answered were very clear with their message: don’t do it. I was abruptly informed that I would never make a career out of it, that I would not last and that I would not succeed. I was shocked. Photography up until that point had been such an exciting world of trial and error, but when trial ended in success, words could not describe the excitement I felt. Then I made a phone call to the only female photographer on my list. Evelyne Straker of Straker Photography who had started her business while I was away at school. Evelyne answered the phone and was cheery and welcoming and then got right to it to decide if I was in or out- ‘do you watch the new show Survivor?’ Evelyne is still a friend today.
When I think back to my photography start, I was green. Oh my was I green. But with any profession there is always a starting point. Luckily, I have always known what I like and what I don’t. It seems as though I have just spent the last decade learning how to try to express what it is that sits within my creative soul. Learning exposures, depth of fields, colours, lighting that suit my style. I have not gotten “there” yet. I don’t know that I will ever arrive to a place of pure content satisfaction. Maybe that is what continues to drive people- a constant desire for something more, something new, and something greater. For me, with a continued air of nostalgia that lies within the people we get to capture- same subject, different view, brand-new capture.
I remember where my creative journey really began. I was a summer student for the Department of Education and met a group of teachers. They were all welcoming their first babies. Almost a decade ago I approached one of their wives and mentioned maternity photography. I was sweating. My heart was beating out of my chest. Casually she responded yes as if I had asked her something as easy as if she wanted a glass of water. It was the first time I ever pitched an idea to a client that required them to expose some flesh. Seana was incredible. She kept telling me to just tell her what to do. Then and there confidence was balled up and stuck inside me. And, for that I am forever grateful to Seana! Once Seana and her husband, Todd, welcomed their baby girl, Seana brought her over so I could continue to learn. They named their baby Kaitlyn. And teeny tiny Kaitlyn was the first creative newborn session I ever photographed. From those two sessions my confidence and creativity were ignited. I was giddy with excitement and almost a decade later, Kaitlyn and I reunited for some sunset magic and I am giddy again.
A lot of what I have learned as far as photography has come after my formal training. Sessions like Seana’s taught me little things that have gone a long way, like newborns need to be warm. I know… should seem simple. But it has all been a journey. And one that I am happy to say is still very much a work in progress. Many (not all) old school photographers seem to have had a protective bubble of steel that surrounds their knowledge, business and “club”. Some of this aura seems to still plague some southern photography industries. But over the last decade or so positive change has happened. Photographers are excited to share, inspire, challenge and love one another! Yellownife itself has seen a surge in creative camera toting folks: men, women, teens, husbands, wives, teams- you name it. And it is wonderful. It creates diversity, shared inspiration, shared knowledge and a great community of colleagues. To be honest, it was even one of these colleagues whose one small sentence, or nudge, I will never forget. Ironically, I ended up working in the desk right next to friend and fellow photographer Dave Brosha. At the time Dave was just ‘the other guy’. But after a few days of getting to know one another, we became quick friends. For those of you that know Dave, you know he could make best friends with a grizzly bear. After a few days of testing me out, he approached me and asked if he could be honest. I’ll admit I was a little nervous- did I have an irritating work habit? Was I being too loud? As I wondered what I had done to bother my new co-worker, Dave sat on the corner of my desk, looked me right in the eye and said, ‘what… are you doing here?’ And then threw a couple compliments my way that I will never forget. That year, Dave and I both left the corporate world and the world of two full-time jobs to become full-time Yellowknife-based photographers with our own unique ventures. Not once, have we ever told the other our dreams were an impossibility. Yellowknife is jam-packed with crazy fabulous artists of all kinds. And I love the collaboration, encouragement, and nourishment that happens under northern lights and midnight suns.
I am so thankful for ten years of encouragement from a community that has fully supported my desire to create and capture, so as I celebrate 10 years of photography, I want to spend the next 10 months celebrating with my wonderful clients and community. Let’s celebrate ten with the word ten. I have ten words that contain “ten”. And each word brings with it some exciting opportunities. July’s tenniversary word is content. So, every package, session, product, gallery, etc. purchased during the month of July will be entered into a draw. The winner will win their entire purchase. Payments must be made in full to have your name entered into the draw. This includes all products and services, including weddings. Yes, you read that right including weddings. Every client for July and August is automatically entered into the draw, and every person who purchases their products or services- even if the product or service will be redeemed at a later date- will also be entered. Hopefully that will make one very lucky person quite content!
No blog post is ever complete without images. So I would love to share with you a little before and after. Baby Kaitlyn during her newborn session and Kaitlyn almost a decade later. And yet again, Seana insisted, just tell us what to do. Thank you Seana, for always believing in me.