February 8, 2024
2023 was the year when I really started to search and crave a deeper connection to my work as a photographer. The photography industry, while generally quite encouraging and supportive, can be very overwhelming. Each time you open your app there are thousands upon thousands of talented photographer’s work at your fingertips. Every scroll leads to a more beautiful and grand wedding or glamorous engagement session. Occasionally, I have found Instagram to be a source of inspiration but more times than I would like to admit it has left me with envious thoughts. I would click off the app feeling like, ” Well I’ll never be as good as this photographer, why should I even share this photo?” or “What makes me different than her or him….why would this couple choose me over them? ” The list went on.
In addition to the constant comparison game, I was caught between the desire to to create work that was different and unique but kept visiting the same sources of “inspiration” At some sessions, I would snap the same photo that probably 20 of my competitors also shot that day because it felt safe. Later, I would get home and see gorgeous, one-of-a-kind images and feel disappointed, like I failed or had no talent or vision. I wanted that unique factor, but struggled to leave behind the cookie-cutter system I had got so comfortable with. I was shooting with a “one size fits all” approach to posing, composition, and direction instead of watching and observing the unique nuances of each couple and the story of the day and looking for inspiration outside of an app. I felt trapped in the rhythm of shooting things the same way and was bored of feeling complacent with my work.
After reflection, I knew the answer was to step outside my cozy circle of comfort. This thought was daunting because there was risk involved. But each time I took that step, I found myself more confident, proud, and fulfilled as a photographer. My number one goal is to serve and support my couples to the absolute best of my abilities, creating images for them to treasure and cherish. However, I believe that creatives need the time and space outside of their everyday craft to fill it with something that fuels them and ignites that creative spark in them. I love weddings and always will but have been challenging myself to find inspiration in areas other than my Instagram or Pinterest feeds. Lately, some of my greatest sources of inspiration have come from reading an old fashion book, studying an iconic scene in a film, or the first morning light as it peaks around the corner of my yard.
I share this not because I have found all the answers or am better than a trend, style, or fellow photographer. No way, I am so, so far from perfection or mastery. I share because this shift in mindset has been so healthy for me as a creative. It has been a slow and steady process, really just beginning. But by embracing the thought of trying something new and different, I’ve felt my passion refreshed on this journey of photography.
The images below are from a project I had been dreaming up for nearly 3 years and finally had the opportunity to bring to life this past fall. Dance has always inspired and moved me, I love its delicacy, intricacy, and the story it tells. My sweet friend Chessie was gracious enough to model for me and I could have not imagined a more perfect dancer to grace the floor. Chessie is a professional ballerina, performer, and teacher who has always left me in awe of her gifts and talents. It was an honor to observe and document Chessie’s talent at Relic Rental’s beautiful space in downtown Milwaukee. Chessie, thank you for sharing your gifts with me and helping bring my vision to life!
My goal for 2024 is to further develop and embrace what it means to be an artist and lean into fresh sources of inspiration. I’m not one to have a huge resolutions list, but I do see the start of a new year as an opportunity to begin anew. To my fellow photographers and artists, this year I encourage you to plan a session, trip, or time away to dream up something that makes you light up inside. Lean into the areas that excite you about your work, you will never regret it! I still have a long way to go with where I want to be, but the possibilities and road ahead excite me. A fresh beginning is on its way to my business this year which I am so excited to unveil this coming spring. Thank you for following along and for all of the support and love for my business these past 5 years!
My goal for this session was to shoot it primarily on film to encourage intentionality with each shutter click. Around 90% are film images, shot on Portra 400 and Tri-X black and white film. The digital images were shot on a GFX 50s