So You Think You Want To Be A Photographer?

I’m headed to Prairie Middle School today for career day to talk about “being a photographer.” I’m going to tell them all about the other skills that a photographer needs including WRITING and then I’m going to tell them about the beauty of BLOGS! Oh, and I’ll tell them how it all happened. Here we go …

In the beginning I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most people don’t. But we all have something in common, our passions. And if we follow our passions it all kind of works out. The hard part is identifying your passions.

As a kid your age I didn’t participate much. I wasn’t on a team and I didn’t belong to a club, but I watched everything around me and I wrote about it. I wrote for myself and I wrote to myself. I kept millions of diaries. I wrote about all that I watched and all that was going on around me. Looking back now I know that my passion was to watch and record life.

Where I grew up a lot of kids didn’t go to school past high school. My family struggled with money and I just knew the way out of that life was to go to college. I majored in business because I knew with a business degree I could always get a job no matter what happened to me. I had to pay for school so I worked and went to school at the same time. It took me 8 years but I graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with an undergraduate degree in business as well as a masters degree in business. I still wrote in my diaries and I didn’t pay any attention to photography.

When I was about 26 a camera finally landed in my hands. I had a brother-in-law that had an amazing camera and he let me borrow it. I had a great job, because I majored in business, and I had the money to go buy the exact same one. I LOVED it. Instinctively I knew that I had found a new way to record life. And right after that I made another huge investment. I bought a video camera. My life changed.

Because photography was my passion I spent a lot of time at it and I was really good at it. And I did what I knew how to do, I watched. I watched other photographers and I copied them. In time I found my own style, which is very important. I never took a photography class.

I photographed and videotaped EVERYTHING! My dogs and cats and, eventually, my children. I recorded just about every moment of their lives.

I became a professional photographer, which means you get paid for your work, about 12 years ago. I took what I knew best, business and photography, and I opened my own studio. I was the first woman in my town to do that.

Now, let’s talk about …

. What are the economics of being a photographer?

. What about the fun and excitement of being a photographer?

. How you get to dress? (I love this part)

. What is the equipment like?

. Who are my favorite photographers?

Alison Shaw http://www.alisonshaw.com
Thomas Balsamo http://www.portraitsbythomas.com
Caroline Ghetes http://www.carolineghetes.com

. How can you use photography in your lives?

. What about video? VIMEO

. Then, we’re going to talk about my favorite new thing as a photographer … BLOGS!

. Blogs are free, allow you to document your creativity, and will look great as an addition to your college applications!

. What are my favorite blogs?

My Bionic Boyfriend (I chronicle my husband’s open water swimming career)
WordPress’s Freshly Pressed (Their most recent favorites)
Love And A Six Foot Leash (A woman celebrates her rescue dog)
Caroline Ghetes (She turns her work into blog posts, simple and fun)

Growing up on the border of Canada we used to bundle up and stand in the back yard watching the Northern Lights for so long that I’d get bored. What I remember was that they were glorious and they moved. My mother told me that was as close to Heaven as you could get.

I haven’t seen them since.

And then this came across my computer. It would be nice to see Heaven one more time …