When I moved here from Charleston, SC in 2010, I decided to give wedding photography a long break. I had a vision of photographing babies and families primarily. After several shoots with babies, I realized that while I was decent at taking pictures of them, I wasn’t great at comforting them or speaking their language. I don’t have children of my own. Go figure. I moved on to family portraits. I can do those pretty well too, but have struggled to retain bookings (and maybe relevancy) among the influx of photographers and the eye-candy photoshop actions and faux vintage sets and styles that are king at the moment.

There are a few ways to deal with this. Grumbling about it is always an option. Adapting and flowing with it works sometimes depending upon your business model. Being a rigid stone in the creek is where I was for a while. Turns out, stones in the creek lose their edge, and just wear down over time. My direction started to become apparent as I was photographing Destiny a couple of years ago.

We were having fun. She seemed comfortable. That was only after about 5 minutes of chit-chat where most of the conversation was about how uncomfortable she usually had felt in front of the camera. I’m very much a one-on-one kind of communicator, and we were able to work collaboratively. That’s a cliché in the art business, but it was true for me. I’ve come to realize that I think I can fit in in the High School Senior Portrait market because I can completely relate. I don’t want to give up what’s served me well, but I want to show people the burgeoning ‘me’ through my work. I just can’t do that in front of the same old vintage suitcase in a field over and over. Of course I’ll take that picture for any client, but trends are windows into a collective. I’m not downing the fun of trends. I like candy too, and I’ve danced my share of Gangnam Style (remember that?). I want to photograph the individual. I bump into Destiny every now and then, and she’s still excited about her senior portraits.

That’s what I’m after; art that doesn’t lose relevancy for my subjects and clients. The search continues.

-JG

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