Frequently when I meet new people & they ask what I do for a living I respond with the answer that I’m a treasure hunter. This either garners me a well deserved raised eyebrow or a “wow, that must be exciting!”. I usually respond with a “yep, it’s true. It is exciting, especially when you luck out and find some good ones. Then comes the, “what kind of treasures do you hunt?” question. That’s when the conversation gets interesting =)
You see, what we do over here is very hard to categorize. If a potential client is looking at studios and comparing the quality of work, pricing, packages and the like then on the outside it appears as if what we do is not that much different than a typical portrait session or Wedding coverage. Yet when they inspect a little closer there is a huge difference & the number one reason that when asked to a potential client, what drew you to the studio, the answer is that the images look REAL. I usually ask what they mean by that and the reply is always the same. The people in the images look like they are experiencing the emotions that are being conveyed in the photo or video. They look authentic, real not forced, comfortable and natural. The number two reason that potential clients give us is that they feel our images are cool. Great!!! We make real cool images and video, that should be our next tag line ;) Seriously though, I’m always excited when my message shines through to the types of people that want Real and Cool. I have split personality when it comes to shooting and I do want to make emotionally authentic work that inspires me, I also want to make beautiful and cool images too. Ying and Yang, all day long!
So yes, initially that is what people see. Then fast forward. You are a client now. You book your sessions and the day arrives for us to hang out. You have no idea what you are in store for. The Journey of your session is not what you thought a portrait session was all about. You have fun, we engage through words, thoughts and actions. Together we experience a trip down memory lane and also make new memories. You leave the session saying that “it was one of the best experiences you have ever had as a couple or a parent or a sibling.” Actual words spoken by those who have had the full experience. You talk about the session to anyone that will listen. They all think you have drank the crazy coolaid until…. They see the images, watch the videos and book their own session.
It’s true. We have an exceptionally high percentage of referrals from existing clients to their families and friends. It is something that I am very proud of and extremely thankful for because what we do, this treasure hunting thing, it’s very personal and not everyone wants to get all up and personal with people they just met but when a family member or true friend tells you – YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!!! Well, it means they think you would be a good candidate and a great fit for our services.
So, treasure hunting, yes. It can be an emotionally and physically exhausting task but in the end I feel rewarded by natural smiles, heartfelt words, love, laughter, tears and sometimes sadness, joy, pride and so many other treasures that we can not live without. It is an important job, a meaningful one and one that I do because it makes me a better person every time I pick up my camera and every time I read a response from another unexpectedly amazed client.
Here is a family portrait from my childhood. I love it because it is my family but you can’t really gauge who we were at that moment in our lives. It’s a static image. Obviously I cherish it because I have so few images of us all together but what I wouldn’t give to go back and take more images & to film video so that I could see and hear and remember. For now I will have to just use my imagination. The cute little boys are thinking, hmmmm our sister is so amazing and smart. The mom & dad are thinking – we have a beautiful family and don’t we look fashionable! The little girl is clearly in the midst of saying something extremely profound… One can always imagine ;)