Most of the people in my family, when I began to talk about photography, their eyes glaze over. So, I try not to spend much time talking about photography. But, I told my mom about this particular project because she is a lifelong social worker. In fact, she just retired again this past week. I’m not sure it’ll be for the last time, but she says it is. So, I talked with her about this job because I feel as if she understands working with society’s most vulnerable people. She taught me how to be sensitive…maybe I inherited it.
I shudder to think if Goodwill had called even five years ago and asked me to help with this project, what I might have thought. (See the executive headshots I created for them HERE.) Like many young photographers, I once was an artist, and that meant that I wanted to pick and choose. There was one year where I only wanted to photograph families and only at golden hour. There was one year where I didn’t really care what I photographed but I wanted to do it on medium format film. There was one year where I only photographed high end weddings. And then boutique intimate weddings. I guess I’m just saying that I’ve never really found my niche. The target has always been moving. And, how limiting it was. These days I seek ways to use my camera and skillset to help people, help people in the community. That’s my mission statement. That’s the litmus test for if a job is a good fit: do I have the skillset (and time and resources) to do it well? and will it help people?
In this chapter where I collaborate with solo entrepreneurs, small businesses, corporations, and nonprofits, I create high caliber imagery that elevates their digital presence and meets their diverse print marketing needs. And what that means is I need to be able to do a little bit of everything. Interior photography. Headshot photography. Lifestyle photography. Ecommerce and product photography. I can do all of this. I feel as if never finding my niche was a divinely orchestrated and sometimes poorly wrapped gift.
So when Goodwill called, and I went out to the site visit to see– gosh, I can’t remember but I think it’s 13 acres– their facilities, I felt so excited. My gift, I think, is to see art in everything. I can get lost in a puddle of light in the floor. Or the way papers are stacked on a desk. How colors combine to create a palette. The way lines integrate to create symmetry or something interesting. This type of work has become my ideal creative project.
I knew it would be a project that would stretch me because well, Goodwill is a cavernous warehouse with fluorescent lighting, and I am accustomed to manipulating light in my studio. We didn’t hire models. Nobody went to hair and makeup. I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due to my team who helped me. My film crew members have strong biceps and triceps because they hold a light up for long periods. I’ve included some behind the scenes photos mostly of myself hunched over a camera or a computer. The standard crouched posture of a photographer, I suppose.
This collection conveys the story of what happens on a daily basis at Goodwill North Central Texas. Their reach in the community is absolutely incredible, and I was happy to help.
In this world where companies post on their social media anywhere from 4-6 times per week, content is king. Sometimes I create marketing photographs for companies annually, sometimes quarterly, and as of late even monthly. High caliber imagery and video content tells the story of who you are and what you have to offer your customers. If you’d like more information about how I could help you create marketing content for your company, send me an email or book a call HERE.
It’s been two months since I’ve written anything here, and it’s because I have worked. There’s much more I could say, but it suffices to say, in July, I worked. I received some incredible opportunities that stretched me personally and professionally and creatively.
My family often looked around and wondered why our home looked as if we’d been ransacked. Our dogs put on a few pounds because I was out of the house sometimes before we could get our steps in. I got my first pair of readers because evidently staring through a one inch by one inch picture frame for 8 hours a day and then editing photos on screen into the wee hours of the night has precipitated the inevitable aging of my nearly forty-year-old eyes. I spilled a bunch of morning coffee in my cupholders and ate a bunch of peanut butter brunch sandwiches in my car.
That is what I ate most days when I was teaching school over ten years ago. I remember thinking, “One day, I’m going to own my own business and take two hour lunches.” (I WAS REALLY YOUNG AND NAIVE ABOUT BUSINESS OWNERSHIP). This past month, I think I ate one lunch with a friend. I have a few women in my life who are my hype girls (ahem, ladies). They sweep in and provide that pep talk when I need it, even when I don’t know I need it. And, even though I failed at being a good friend and housekeeper this month, my village stepped in to help me level up.
This is really a blog about headshots, so maybe I should just get on with it. When I edited these headshots, I felt a sense of pride. I think it’s the culmination of ten years of photographing people. I had a team working with me for this shoot, and the lighting just couldn’t have been better. If you’re a photographer, you know the “high key” white background challenge. It’s hard. There’s so much I could say. But, it suffices to say, it’s hard. And, the thing about being a professional in your industry is that when you do something well once, people ask you to do it again and again. So, this is the third time I’ve done high volume, white background headshots. Repetition strengthens and confirms, and I’m more confident with it now, and that confidence invariably is conveyed to the person sitting before my camera. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m having fun photographing people. One of my hype girl friends said, “You can tell you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.” And, I get a visceral sense that she’s right. This pandemic has forced me to question everything, but one thing I know for certain: this is my life’s work. There’s no more shrinking. There’s no more saying, “This is a temporary thing.” This is a passion that ebbs and flows but continues to sustain and inspire me.
One of my assistants and I discuss what an intimate experience it is to photograph someone. We learn all sorts of things about people. Some of it surface level– where you like to travel, who you love to hang out with. And, some of it is deep. I could say so much more, and I know there’s a book in me about the process of creating portraits, but for the sake of anonymity, it suffices to say: deep. My mentors remind me that I’m using my counseling degree and my somatic license. I’m offering each person who sits before my camera a reparative experience, and beyond beautiful photos, that’s my intention. It’s why people find me in the hall after sessions and say, “That was different than any other photographic experience. That was fun.” It’s why women stand in front of my laptop seeing themselves in a new light and say, “I’ve never liked photos of myself, and I absolutely love these.”
Anyway, if you made it this far, here are some headshots I did in July for Goodwill North Central Texas. The concept comes from Ardent Creative, a DFW local agency who handles the digital marketing and web design for at least a few of my clients. On their site, you can see the first image is a traditionalish headshot and as you hover over the image, a candid image appears. Brilliant. That’s what we did, and I got a real feel for the culture at this nonprofit that gives so much to the community.
Fair warning, at the end of these images you’re going to wish there were more. It’ll end abruptly, and if you want me to come to your place of business and create you and your staff headshots that celebrate who you are individually and collectively, I’d love to help. Send me an email, or book a call HERE. Or, check out the lifestyle photos I did for their marketing and ad campaigns HERE.
I met Kelly Decker a couple years ago. My friend and client, Tabitha of Tabitha Mahaffey Designs, introduced us. She asked me to create a photograph for her firm for a local publication. I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. We met outside the loop on some land and dragged some modern chairs out into the pasture, and I regretted that I hadn’t worn boots and was afraid I’d step on a snake and we waited for the moment for a longhorn to wander into the frame. Now that I’ve painted the behind the scenes for you, I have decided to dredge up the photograph.
It wasn’t your average company photo. So when she called me to do some new business photos, she didn’t want your average attorney headshots– the ones that are highly polished and airbrushed that have been the industry standard for years.
I went to my photography books. I sat around and studied Annie Leibovitz’s work for an hour or so, and then I knew what I wanted to do.
Basically, I have two approaches to branding photography: option one is where you go to hair and makeup and then together we create this shiny, polished curated gallery of images that narrate your brand’s story; option two is to show up often and document the behind the scenes of what you do. The former one is beautiful and has that bright, airy aesthetic that so many people love. The latter two is candid and a little chaotic and messy, and guess what your target audience feels when they see these types of images: Oh wow, she is so relatable and personable and approachable. Sold. Don’t get me wrong…I still love a beautiful, polished photo session in my studio. It’s why I offer both. I think there’s room creatively for your business to have both.
Rarely does a woman call and say I’m not going to hair and makeup and don’t retouch my photos. I want this to be real and irreverent, but in the event that they do, I am ready with option two.
Not all attorneys go to trial, but Kelly does. So we headed to the courthouse at 8 am. I wore my black court costume. I hadn’t been to court since I photographed an adoption. Kelly asked me if I liked tea, and I tried to act open to it, but I’m generally a coffee person all the way. The Earl Gray latte from Lazy Daisy Coffee though was smooth and wonderful, and I’ve been thinking of getting another one ever since. I tried to be as discreet as possible because I’m not sure judges really like to have photographers in their courtrooms. I am still wondering what happened with some of her cases. I feel invested in the families that I don’t even know. I don’t know how she does this work, but I’m glad she does.
We all need women in the arena with us cheering us on and walking with us and occasionally to be our arms and legs to carry us and fight for us when we feel we can’t go on. Any time a woman calls me and needs help getting out of a marriage, I tell her to call Kelly Decker. And, they’re always better off, for having done so.