Letter to a new photographer

 "To the end of the world" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Emmitsburg, MD   

"To the end of the world" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Emmitsburg, MD


Dear Megan,

I’m remembering our Saturday morning together, trekking in the pre-dawn rains, looking for the light.

You graciously listened to my photography thoughts and rants.  And I was infected by your enthusiasm and vigor.  I enjoyed our time together, more than you will ever know.  

I’ve had time to think about your desire to start your own photography business. We talked of how many new photographers jump into the idea of starting a business without understanding

  • a) what being a business owner entails,
  • b) who they are as a photographer.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to build on our conversation.  I’ll focus my initial thoughts on that second point - “who are you as a photographer”.

Why do you want to start a photography business?  Do you view it as an easy way to make money? Is that your primary reason for starting a photography business?  If money is your only reason, then your photography will be flat, lifeless.

Oh, you might become technically expert over time, but viewers or clients won’t connect with your images.

Viewers won’t feel the “story” in the image…because…there is no story behind it.  There is no heart or soul within the image.

You will always be chasing the dollars and lose your love of art and creativity.

 "Before the sun rises over the silos" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Thurmont, MD

"Before the sun rises over the silos" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Thurmont, MD

Your photography is a direct reflection of your soul.

I agree with the acclaimed Master Photographer, Paul Caponigro.  Caponigro believes photography, or making images, is really weaving photographic techniques with personal soul searching. This is a relevant point for any artist, regardless of media.

 Why?  Because, the soul searching is required to find your voice for your message, your images (and yes, your business).  Some people may refer to this as your “style”.  

No, style is the end-result of techniques used to create/develop/manipulate the image.  

Having said that, your eventual style will probably help convey your voice, your point of view, your soul.

Notice I wrote “eventual style”?  

Because…YOUR style only develops as you find your “voice” as a photographer. Guess what?  

Finding your voice for your photography is really about finding your voice in your life. Who "you are" in your art can't be separated from the "who you are" in life. Your art and your life are irrevocably intertwined.

Who do you want to be?  And, how will you fully and unconditionally present yourself to the world?

Finding your voice forces you to go deep inside, but will you do it?
    Can you do it?  Go deep, that is.

    Do you have the psychological, emotional, and spiritual tools to go deep?

    Do you have the guts to go deep?

    Do you have the will to go deep?

    Do you have the patience to take the time needed to go deep?

    Do you have the discipline to learn, improve your knowledge and skills in yourself and your photography?

 It’s about finding your “why”. It’s about finding your message, your point of view. It's about finding what you have to offer that is different, that is important.

It's about asking the question, "What is this for?"  What transformation will your art bring to the world?

It’s about showing up - taking yourself and your presence in the world seriously -  finding the fine points of “you” and honing them.

 "The many points of starlight" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015, San Antonio TX.

"The many points of starlight" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2015, San Antonio TX.

And just when you think you’ve found all the points, and you’ve honed them to their sharpest, you’ll find new points - just like the formation of stalactites and stalagmites - an ever evolving process.

You're not going to know all these points in depth if and when you finally start your photography business.  You evolve, your “why” evolves, your “how” evolves, your "what" evolves. Your knowledge, skill, technique all evolve. 

It’s all about relevance - is your art relevant? To whom? To what end?
It is a learning process about what fascinates you in this world; what connects you in this world.

Take time to learn from the best

Before you even think about starting a business of your own, put in the time to learn from the best - or at least the best you can find in your vicinity. If you have the money to travel and learn from the best, do it.

Think you want to be a wedding photographer?  Then spend time as an intern with a really good wedding photographer. Progress to being a second shooter for that photographer.  Learn everything that is required to produce a beautiful and meaningful wedding portfolio.

Think you want to photograph newborns and infants?  Learn from the best.  You MUST learn about safety for the infant. Ever hear a photographer discuss thermoregulation of a newborn?  If not - stay away from that person.  Newborns and infants are unable to maintain body temperature.  All those "adorable" images of naked newborns? You'd better hope there was a warming pad under that sheepskin.  And, for the love of all things Holy, keep the newborns and infants AWAY from wild animals, farm animals.

Think you might want to do studio portraits?  Then offer to be an intern with a well-respected and successful portrait photographer.  Learn about studio lighting. Learn about natural lighting. Learn how to take sharp photographs. Learn to highlight the best features of your clients.

Learn. Learn. Learn.

You owe it to yourself to determine where your real artistic heart lies.

You owe it to your future clients to produce a superb piece of art.

Next week, I'll write about starting that photography business.


Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.



Hey - I'm Rebecca! I'm the owner of Rebecca LaChance Art & Photography. I'm a professional photographer in MD specializing in twilight landscape photographic art. Sometimes, I paint. Connect with me if you want info about purchasing a photo or painting you've seen on the blog or in the gallery. Have any questions about something you read on my blog?  Drop me a line in the comments below.

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