photography: becoming a specialist

after spending more than 10 years with my eye pressed up against the viewfinder of an SLR camera (first it was 35 mm, then digital), after pointing it in the direction of so very many things, places, and people, some things have come started to come clear.

you look at my portfolio right now and you’ll see i have been a generalist: weddings, engagements, families-who-are-posed, mini-session portraits, babies, kids, graduation and anniversary parties,  multi-generational family groups, seniors, boudoir, and birth.

what a lovely, lovely world filled with a billions of beautiful faces and thousands of good reasons to celebrate and document those celebrations. i’ve seen the fresh love and creative pinnacle of a wedding day, the flirtatious adoration of an engaged couple, the traditions of families stopping to commemorate, the sensual daring of a woman who’ll be photographed in her undergarments to give some joy to the man she loves, and the tentative coming-into-self of a graduating senior. i have loved it all, each in its own way.

today, feeling now so blessed to have been allowed to witness and document so many sorts of breath-taking people and their moments in time, i feel i can now step back and ask myself: out of all of this varied glory, what is the one thing that resonates most deeply, that brings me so much life that i want to spend as much time around it as possible?

i might have answered this question differently 5 or 8 years ago, had i bothered to ask it of myself, but i didn’t. so today, the answer to this question is this:

that which is raw and ordinary, which is family, which is life. 

more specifically:

family photo-journalism

(the kind where no one gets especially dressed up, and they probably stay home and just do the sorts of things that families do while i just happen to be present to make note of it on film)



birth stories

(the sort where women – and their men – are transformed as they undergo the process of giving life to a new little person, and are brave enough to allow me into that space to witness it through my camera’s eye)


mmmm, yes. those things get my heart pumping. these are the ones that i look forward to doing more than any other sort of photography job.


what if those two things became unapologetically my specialty? what if i began to say “no” to other sorts of work so that i could indulge in and master these two sorts? what if i gave myself over to that which i really love, and that which i think i do best?

there’s a degree of risk. will it shrink my client base too significantly? will it disappoint certain folks? will i be going back to square one to re-establish myself within these new parameters?

yup, risky, but it feels right.

this is the new plan, friends. website and blog and facebook page will begin to reflect said changes very soon (well, maybe after my maternity leave).

i’m very much looking forward to this new chapter of my photography career.

*i am sort of test-driving this post here on my “personal” blog before i post it to my professional blog.


15 thoughts on “photography: becoming a specialist

  1. i really, really love this, b. and it does feel right for you. i feel like you’ve been inching toward this for awhile. i’m proud of you for taking this risk!

    • yes, i think you’re right about the inching towards it. finally took the final step today: no more advertising for or showcasing portfolio work of weddings and seniors. eek!

  2. I just love this post and your descriptive language about all the groups you’ve photographed! On Mar 1, 2013 1:30 PM, “first the kingdom” wrote: > > brooke posted: “after spending more than 10 years with my eye pressed up against the viewfinder of an SLR camera (first it was 35 mm, then digital), after pointing it in the direction of so very many things, places, and people, some things have come started to come clear” >

    • oh, sue! that would be such an honor. i saw a snap of your with your new little girls on an adoption blog. my heart swells with you for that joy. i COULD come to chicago to do that sometime, if you’re serious. we’ll be headed to Madison, WI at least twice in 2013 and could do an en route stop-in for the occasion…

  3. well, now, i know you just had a baby…huge congrats!!! he is beautiful! but I think i might be serious about you taking our pics. i love your style and just want some very casual pics of our family. let me know…no pressure right now. ENJOY.

  4. Well, here is one client who certainly is not disappointed in hearing this…relieved that this is the thing you are choosing to focus on so we can someday be photographed by you again! Your photos have been such a gift to our family and I was just thinking the other day have awesome it will be when the kids can look back on these as adults and see how our “everyday” was when they were littles, captured so beautifully and accurately. I’m glad many other families and moms will be able to experience the same with your new direction!

  5. Pingback: 1 year after stepping back | first the kingdom

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