Friday, March 2, 2012

and a year goes by....like that!


Who knows about posting/not posting? Why do we start? Why do we find it so hard to keep going? Maybe our thoughts are scaring us to the point where we just don't want to think them out loud? Maybe we are knee deep in diapers and can't fathom finding any fire left in our bellies to write about anything other than the drudgery of day-day-ness. I'm not sure for the reasons, or if they qualify as excuses, but either way, it's been almost a year since I've posted. Anything. For no particularly good reason. I do know this post will be meandering and loosely-joined...much like the thoughts traveling along in my brain. No point A to point B in there...just thoughts brushed along by the breezes in my mind.

I do remember posting about Prom last year. And probably realizing now why that was a good place to stop posting. We had organized somewhat of a shindig for our new photography studio, where we were offering to take prom pictures of people for $20. Crazy cheap for the kids; good experience for us. As it was, I did end up taking pictures of quite a few kids. Enough that we needed to have a couple of wonderful babysitters for Mas, spent hours of editing in the studio, printed up proof sheets for all, and also bought about $100 worth of snacks for the kids while they were waiting. As it was, absolutely no one bought even one single solitary picture. It was devastating to me at the time, but I seemed to gloss over it and push forward, because damned if I was going to admit defeat over this mess. Financially, we ended up losing about $300 when all was said and done, and we have zero to show for it. Except what it did to my psyche. Which was priceless.

As a couple of people thrust into this situation we are in, which is raising a couple of children, one of whom needs to stay tightly scheduled, (and one whom is very often ill) this photography studio seemed like a great "side" business for us; most notably for me. A way to use up some creative juices and yet still be available for those times when Mas is sick and ends up home for a week at a time, or when he is home after school and needs diapers changed, meds given, snacks provided, etc. And, for not having done any advertising yet, we have done remarkably well. I have a studio of pictures, wall-to-wall, to prove it. We have captured some nice moments, and are learning more and more as we go.

Still, though, last year's Prom stuck me hard. Like getting a poisoned arrow thrust in between your ribs. Hard to extract, and just seeping poison for months to come. It makes you question things like, "Should we even be trying to do this?" "Did we do something wrong?" "Were the pictures not as good as we thought?"

That last one scares me the most. After the aftermath of last year's Prom, I did not look at those pictures for a good, long time. Later last fall, I checked them out again, to see if the pictures were the problem, or the situation. I have to say, after months of doubting our abilities and worrying over the pictures, and after analyzing them with a fine-tooth comb, I have decided that the pictures were incredibly good. Sharp, colorful, fun, and we did capture the joie de vivre that was present on that good night. The reality is, (and the harsh truth), is that kids these days want grainy, poorly-lit photos on their cell phones, that they can then post on facebook. And that is all. They don't want their memories captured in living color. They want their grainy generation's version of color. Quality is really becoming, (all too swiftly) a thing of the past.

Our daughter did warn us of this, when we were getting ready to take these pictures. She told us kids wouldn't want those types of pictures. I didn't listen. I am old now, I realize, and thought I had these kids figured out. I don't.

As it was, I ended up archiving all of their photos to disc, where they will sit forever, untouched, as a constant reminder of the "Horrible Experiment Gone Wrong" in our studio. In fact, in our calendar organizer, on that day, I have written in black Sharpie: "Horrendous. NEVER AGAIN." Hee hee.

It was probably (yet another) test by the universe, to see if we were ready for this. I think I failed it for the past 11 months. But, now, I think I see it for what is was: a way to make us take pictures for the right reasons. In a town FILLED with photographers, (literally, 4300 populace and at least 5 professional photographers, as well as at least 25 people with a Rebel xti and a facebook page who think they're professional) this is absolutely the last place anyone should even think about starting a photography studio. Other people have more time, more resources, more experience, way more clients, and more exposure than we do. Which used to bum me out. Now, it feels like it's freeing us up.

We are able to spend as much time as we want on any given shoot. We can go wherever we want. We aren't tied down to any corporate leanings or anyone else's ideas for the direction a shoot should go. I usually have at least 50 photos I love from each shoot, and 20-25 photos I really love. I can see the truth in people's eyes and demeanor, and if I'm lucky, I can catch it. We are able to print frameless photos, photos on foam, on velvet, on canvas, and now on metal. We can make books, boxes, folios, phone cases, long pictures, square pictures...you name it. To hell with the perceived failures. I prefer to look at last year's Prom as a lesson in What Not To Do; as a thing to avoid in the future. Not as a way to live.

Life isn't always pretty. Or tied up in a bow. Or planned out the way we would like. But, as I told my daughter only a few days ago; life isn't determined by what kind of trials we are faced with, but with how we handle those trials. It was good advice, and I meant it. Now, I just have to take it. Always easier to hand out 'isms' than to follow them.

Here's hoping I can hop back on the blog train and move forward. Posting isn't hard. Posting your feelings is. Posting without feelings is cardboard writing, and I won't have it. As far as our business goes, why not have a photo studio in a town with the highest photographer/populace ratio we have ever born witness to? Where better than to hone our craft and showcase what we can do? Maybe too much competition is a great thing. A freeing thing. An inspiring thing.

And this year, on Prom night, I will be taking photos of my daughter and her friends. For free. For her. And no one else will be invited. We won't have a babysitter, and we won't need one. We won't spend hundreds of dollars to make none. We will spend whatever we want to make the night fun for us.

Souls are fragile little things. That little candle that is lit in the belly of a creative person is really just a tiny, thin little flame the majority of the time. Sometimes, it rages like an inferno! Other times, it gets snuffed out. If we are lucky, we can get the little bastard re-lit before our creativity takes a hike.