I had planned to write post like this by the beginning of this month. However, 2016 began sad and difficult, and it was necessary to take a break to be 100% where I needed to be.
January is always an important month to me. It’s the beginning of the new year, filled with resolutions and plans, it’s also my birthday month and to the usual annual review seems inevitable. But what I’ll be doing here won’t be a review of 2015, but of the years since I started photographing families. It has been an incredible experience and I wanted to share with those who follow and enjoy my work a bit of what it has been like, and also to recognize the ones that have helped me the most. These last days have also made me remember the importance of being able to share these small good things with the ones we love most, whenever we can, and this is also a way of doing it. It’s going to be a long post, so just bear with me.
In December 2013 I finished my PhD. Back then I’ve already been photographing families for more than two years and the decision to try and make it my main job was a natural one. The main goal back then (which still is today) was to build a long term sustainable family photography business. I wanted for it to grow without any rush, so that I could offer families images that made me proud (as well as them) and to provide them the best experience possible. I knew that it would be a long process (it still is), not only because I was just starting out, but also because this wasn’t a established area of business in Portugal. It is very recent here, and it’s still growing.
During this time, I tried a lot of different things. I attended workshops, did several marketing initiatives, experimented with prices and products, built the website, I’ve met and photographed amazing families… I’ve also failed a lot, but it is incredible how much I’ve been learning in the process. I even dare to say that these years have been a much more valuable learning experience than my degree, masters and PhD put together.
I’ve also realized that this is a process that doesn’t end. Besides the most obvious tasks like photographing, practicing, editing and contacting families, there’s always the blog to update, the portfolio to renovate, the newsletter to send, packaging to redesign, new marketing strategies to implement, new products to try (yep, these are actually things on my to do list)… and this cycle is a constant! But guess what? I’m enjoying all of it. I never thought that one day I’d have a creative job. I was always more into the science and math (I chose my college degree, physics engineering, with no doubt on my mind). Who knew, right? But the truth is that there is something very systematic about how to manage all of this and I must say that that more practical side of me has been a real asset.
In these past 2-3 months, for the first time, I feel like I’m finally reaping the fruits of all this work. In this “low season”, I have a good amount of sessions scheduled (do I want more? Yes, definitely! But I’ll get there.). But comparing with past years, where coming to March/April I started to doubt everything, this year is totally different. Everything flows more naturally, lots os inquiries keep coming in, there are more and more families seeking for my work, not only in Aveiro, but all around the country. And the ones who hire me, love the whole experience. There’s still a long way ahead, but I’m very proud of what I’m building and I hope to be able to do it for a long time.
With this post, you may get the wrong idea that I’ve been doing this all by myself, which could not be further from the truth. Actually, I’ve had a lot of help while doing this. I know and I acknowledge that, in that aspect, I’m pretty lucky. When I think about what has had an essential role in helping me achieve what I want to achieve, three main things come to mind.
The first one is, obviously, the support I have from my family. My parents are my biggest fans and if they hadn’t agreed to help me (not only in moral support, but also financial), everything would have been so much more difficult, if not impossible. They know when I have photo sessions, they want to know if I have more inquiries, more meetings, etc, and are as happy as I am when good things happen. Is there anything better than that?
The second is the fact that I get to go to work everyday to a shared space with people like Pedro, Marina and Teresa. We have a perfect space for our needs, where we can invite in our clients and have our own space. We developed an amazing working environment, where we respect each other, help one another and are truly happy for each one’s success. With Pedro and Marina, also photographers (with beautiful work and, wow!, how they’ve grown these past years) who are also building their own path in photography, we end up helping each other a lot wether in a simple idea or opinion exchange, sharing our frustrations when things don’t go our way or even in going out for one of the much needed photowalks. Teresa, who is “boss of our spot”, child therapist, that coincidently has crossed paths with me once or twice during our childhood (we are constantly discovering new common bonds), completes our little spot, with the conversations between her consults that always brighten up our day, the dinners with a little wine in the mix and her inseparable Miga (the quietest and most obedient dog I’ve ever seen). It seems unimportant, but to be able to work every single day on such a positive environment and genuine mutual help turned out to be fundamental.
The third is what I sometimes refer to “my school”, which is creativeLIVE. creativeLIVE is a project that I follow since its beginning and that has opened my eyes and gave me a major part of the knowledge I needed to start this adventure. Basically, creativeLIVE offers creativity related workshops (mainly photography) that are transmitted live for anyone who wants to learn. One of the first workshops I saw was one about children photography and its business. It was lectured by Tamara Lackey, where she talked about everything about her own business. It was around that time when that click happened and I started to think that I would probably love to do this for a living and there was a chance that I might actually be kind of good at it. And the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. That was more than 5 years ago! (In the meantime I had the privilege to attend one of Tamara’s workshop in person, which actually turned out to be a turning point in my work). To me, creativeLIVE is, to this day, an amazing resource of everything related to creativity. I’ve bought a few workshops with photographers that inspire me and once in a while I go there to check out what’s new.
This year that is now beginning, regarding photography, the plan is to keep doing what I’ve been doing and to photograph more babies and happy families. The learning process keeps going and next month I’ll be away for a sort of photographer’s conference (it’s something so different from what’s around, that I don’t know what call it) with some of the best photographers in the world and I still don’t believe I’m actually going.
Here, on the blog, you can count on more beautiful images; I will also return with the photography tips (it’s been two years since the last one) and other stuff I have prepared.
And, because this post is already way long (sorry about that), I’ll finish it right away. Just want to share with you a bit of what is like to do something I’m passionated about. Thank you all so much for being there and I hope you keep on following my work!