The Hardest Part of Being a Photographer

Military graveyard in San Diego, CA

When you first start working somewhere, you get trained – you are a little nervous until you get the hang of things, quickly you find your niche in the group of employees, and you finally settle down and have the routines down pat.  Before you know it, you are training someone new.  Now, when you have worked somewhere long enough, you truly learn the pros and cons of your job.

As a photographer, you see the excitement of photographing professional sports, meeting celebrities, working at places like the White House & the Pentagon.  You get to spend the day with brides and grooms and happy people.  You get to photograph wild & crazy parties.  You get to stalk wild animals to get that one elusive photo.  There are a lot of pros to being a photographer!  The biggest pro – it’s just fun.

            A few of the cons…  Simple – everyone is a photographer.  A high school student goes out and their parents buy them a $200 camera and they are a pro.  A college student takes a class and suddenly they are an artist with the camera.  So yes, lots of competition – real and fake.  Another con, cost!  WOW and WOW, people have no clue.  My primary camera body is $5k, my back up is $3k, each lens is anywhere from $2k to $6k.  Then there are the lights, editing software, insurance, business expenses, advertising…ugh.

            Finally, there is the HARDEST part of being a photographer.  Is it a pro or a con?  I don’t rightly know; it might be something you have to decide for yourself.  Your job, if you photograph people like me, is to catch moments in life!  The happiest moment of someone getting married, a moment of slam dunking a basketball in the NBA, the second a cadet is on stage and receives his diploma from West Point Military Academy.  Catching those moments in life means one very real thing – people are going to be calling you when that person is no longer among the living. 

EVERY YEAR, for the last 10 years, I have volunteered my time with a charity called “The Miracle Party” (http://www.miracleparty.org/), it’s one night in the year where kids with cancer can come and forget the hospitals and the test and the treatments.  It’s amazing – we set up games, bouncy castles, stages, lights, concerts, we have horses, carriages, fire trucks, acrobats, the Army brings Humvees, it’s a huge production…  And then the kids arrive and it’s magical! 

I cannot even begin to describe the joy in my heart when I photograph those huge smiles and wide eyes.  To watch kids that live in a hospital get to play in a bouncy castle or ride a horse for the first time.  To watch the soldiers and first responders show them around their equipment.  I get photos of artist singing with the kids, bakeries handing out cupcakes, it’s INCREDIBLE.

And EVERY YEAR, I get a phone call.  One of the children has become an angel and they need photos.  So I start going through the parties, year after previous years, looking for that dress or that shirt in any photo.  Tears welling up in my eyes every time I transfer one to dropbox.

Last week, I had a mother call, I had done senior photos of her daughter.  This girl was such a bright light, amazing smile, and incredible pictures.  She was killed a few weeks ago texting and driving.  The mother needed another set of photos.

This wasn’t the first time, it won’t be the last…but it is the HARDEST time.

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