Branching out

There are so many different facets to photography and despite each involving a camera and a subject being photographed that is about where the similarities end (for the most part). My background and experience is with travel photography and photojournalism, I have shot a few weddings, done some High School Senior pics, and some all around just for fun stuff, but I have never done much with child photography.

This week I was asked to shoot for a local Pre-K graduation ceremony. I was really wanting to do some shooting and the opportunity to branch out to something new was intriguing. I tried to prepare myself in advance for what I would be shooting, then the morning of I met with the director and we talked through the service. Unfortunately in my head I had this idea of the children being great subjects for photographs and I was going to get these great shots of them walking across the stage to receive the diploma and shake hands with the director, but in reality they had no clue what was going on around them, they couldn’t sit or stand still for more than a second before becoming distracted, and the stage was set up completely different than what I had imagined (go figure).

So I addressed the situation, took an inventory for what was actually going to happen and started to re-think things for the morning. Then it all began. I began by visiting the class rooms to snap some shots of the kids getting ready. Putting on robes and hats was a bit chaotic as the kids were running around playing games and just well being kids.

Once in the auditorium, each child was to walk across the stage as they had practiced, stopping on a big “X” on the floor to get their picture taken. Unfortunately, with all the distractions of people in the audience the last thing they were thinking about was stopping to get their picture taken. It helped when the teachers would remind them to stop so we could get a picture, which turned out with some interesting shots, as many stopped but didn’t know where to look. Finally it was over and they wanted a group shot, again getting the kids to stand still and look forward is a near impossible task if you ask me. So I snap off a few shots and run with it.

I must say that this shoot was one of the hardest that I have ever done. There was a lot of uncontrollable light issues to work around, the auditorium in which the graduation took place has a really high ceiling eliminating the possibility of a bounce flash, and I was also competing with the parents using their camera’s flashes every other second to photograph their child’s big moment, but in the end it was fun and I hope that I am able to provide some great moments for these children and their parents.

It’s always fun to learn new aspects of photography and to branch out of what you are used to.



Being a photojournalist involves sacrifice. There is no way around it, whether you are beginning your career, in the middle, or winding down in it, if you want to be successful you will have to make sacrifices. The idea that being a successful photojournalist is easy and all fun and games is short lived.

Just as a flower does not begin as the beautifully colorful thing we see in spring, the path to making a living in photography is a slow and sometimes difficult process. In the beginning it may not look anything like what we want it to, but we know that inside of us is a drive and passion that will keep us moving along the path. In time, we will get to a point where we will see things coming together just as with a flower we can see when it starts opening up that there is so much more inside.

In his book Vision Mongers, David Duchemin remarks that, “…if you do not feel like photography is something you are called to-by God, your gifts, your talents, a small nagging voice inside, or just an overwhelming passion for it-then it’s probably not the right choice for you. Finding a life through the lens is not hard-if it’s what you love, it’s easy. But making a living, that’s tough.”

The reality is that in order to make the transition from shooting as a hobby to relying on the money you bring in from photography is quite a big one. There are a ton of resources on the internet and in print that can help guide you along this path, but the transition will take time, and then some more time on top of that. It’s a lot of work and a slow process (for most people).

I am constantly confronted with the reality that if you want to do this for more than a hobby, it will test you on every level. You will begin to realize how much you were able to just focus on shooting before and now you are having to balance shooting, marketing, researching, planning, ect. It is quite an involved task.

It is a good idea at the beginning to ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice. I am currently in a position where I am having to sacrifice time shooting in order to provide. Moving to a new location and a new market can change everything about your photography. Moving back to the U.S. from living in Moscow, Russia, I am faced with many differences in culture and life. I have been learning a lot about myself as a photographer in the past few months and I’m really excited to see where I will be going with this over the next several months and even years. As things are moving slowly for me right now I’m using this time to learn and study my craft, to develop an even deeper understanding of it and how to use it to produce compelling and lasting images.

For more thoughts on making the transition to professional photography check out Skip Cohen and Scott Bourne’s site Going Pro