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Defining my Purpose

As I’ve said before, I am learning like crazy this year. One year ago today I didn’t have a website, a Facebook photography page, a fraction of the equipment I have now, classes under my belt, or even the idea that a business could come from this pastime of mine. And basically everything has changed since then! October is when I decided to dive in. I launched my website, etc. It was exhilarating and everyone has been so supportive.

So now that the business side of things is out of the way and I generally know what I want to do with my life, it’s time to get down to the heart of things. To figure out the WHY.

I’m taking a small course online right now about photography pricing. Now, I was expecting all business, but the photographer teaching the course, Julia Kelleher, is actually taking a lot of time helping others figure out WHY they love doing what they do, WHY people should pay them for their work, and WHY they have this business in the first place. If you’re a photographer, you more than likely already know you have a passion for photography…I mean, that’s pretty much the only reason you’d step into this field. You could be going to law school or trying to become a nurse right now, but instead you’re choosing a career that doesn’t always carry a guarantee for a high income. All you know is that you love photos and want to be a photographer. What I’m learning is that to really be successful you should try to dig even deeper than that. What do you love about taking photos? What is your ideal shoot; something you could shoot all day every day for the rest of your life? And what about that shoot do you feel passionate about? What in your life connects to the photos you take? There’s something more than just, “taking pictures is cool and fun.” What is your reason?

Passion, in my opinion, is what separates the good from the great. And, as cheesy as it sounds, people will believe in what you do when YOU believe in what you do.

So I’ve been trying to answer these questions for myself. I’ve been observing how I feel at different types of shoots and I definitely notice which kinds I feel passionate about and the kinds I do not feel as passionate about…I love it all, but there’s always that one kind that really gets your blood pumping and your mind reeling. There’s got to be something that you take photos of and can’t WAIT to get home to edit. You’re willing to do the dirty work on these shots for hours upon hours because you just know this is what you’re meant to do, you know? This is your art.

Here are my own personal findings :

  1. For me, my ultimate favorite type of shoot is one where I can dress the model up in something they would never normally wear (play dress-up, of course), they get their hair and makeup done, and we just run around and explore random locations. I love making the girl (usually it’s a girl) feel like a badass supermodel queen. I love seeing someone step out of themselves and feel ultra glamorous for a few hours. I’m realizing that this is what draws me to fashion photography. I love the production and going over-the-top in styling.

  2. Growing up, I was a major girly-girl and always loved magazines, pretty dresses, and makeup. When my family was waking up and wearing sweatpants downstairs on Christmas, I was wearing tights, tiny high-heeled shoes, and frilly dresses. I had Britney Spears plastered all over my walls and cut out supermodels from magazines all the time. I’d pretend I was being interviewed by someone in the mirror for my outfit. I think this all plays a part in why I love doing what I do today and why I love portrait and fashion photography. I think it’s interesting to look into your past to notice patterns of things you loved growing up. I have a friend who always wanted to play with dolls, be their mom, and who would be very detailed in the care of her fake children. She now has three kids and loves every second of it. If she were a photographer, you know what I bet she would love photographing? Children and families. I think it would just make sense to her, just like portrait & fashion makes sense to me. You really can learn a lot about yourself by examining your past.

  3. I also have always loved art. I took only art classes in my senior year of high school, majored in art in college, and have been drawing since I could pick up a pencil. I think that photography is just another art tool and for my personal work I try to look at my photos as pieces of art. And dressing someone up, posing them, choosing the location and the face, is all about painting the picture. I love catching people in the moment too, of course, but there’s something about manipulating a shot that just makes me feel like I’m composing a piece of my own.

All of this pondering has only further revealed my passion, which is fashion and portrait photography. I just love making people look and feel beautiful. And I love making art. And portrait photography is an art medium that allows me to connect to someone else and to make them feel awesome, while also allowing me to express myself artistically. To me, it really can’t get any better than that. Knowing why I like what I like may not mean much to others in itself, but it does set a foundation for my work and lets others know that I really do care. This is why companies usually have mission statements I think. It gives them something to fall back on when they’re getting too caught up in the financial stuff, the stress, and the day-to-day chaos. Knowing WHY lets you get back to the heart of things and remember why you’re doing what you do and why you love it. And I think people can tell when you’re working from the heart rather than just for money.

What is your what, and why? All I’m saying is that it’s worth a thought.

-Ashley

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