It’s interesting, sitting here with a cup of coffee in 2019 still contemplating some of the same questions that I asked myself back when I graduated from college in 2011. What should my niche be? What should be my creative focus? Not only do I struggle with which type of photography I should focus on, I also want to be a stippling artist, a logo designer, a user experience designer, an occasional blog writer (hence you reading this right now), and a multitude of other things.
It’s no secret that I love conceptual photography, but the truth is that it’s not something that many people are hiring for. I might get lucky and find some work, but it would take a lot of effort. What’s curious, is that as I reflect, I realize that in some ways I’ve found a niche that I didn’t really choose. How did this happen? I had kids. After having Dotsie, I embraced my inner passion for not only photography but for capturing memories of my kids that we’d have to hold forever. I experimented with the “Flying Dotsie” images and took some classic portraits along the way. People noticed I had a knack for photography and reached out. Because of my inability to really recognize my own niche, my niche evolved itself based on the needs of those in my circle.
I never saw myself as a family/children photographer in college. I just didn’t. It was probably the last thing I would have seen myself doing. Nature photography, landscape photography, conceptual photography, fashion photography, wedding photography. Surely I would end up specializing in one of those, kids are wreck-less and impossible to manage after all. There’s no way that’d be my forte. Fast forward 8 years, and I am sitting here reflecting on the professional jobs I’ve been hired for and almost all of them are children’s portraits! Whoa, that’s crazy. How did that happen? There’s something truly different about children portraiture that matches my own style that I didn’t realize until years later, and I am still coming to realize while writing this post. The same thing that fuels my inner passion for creating magical conceptual photography is a sense of wonder and inner child, which is exactly the characteristic that kids exhibit by just being themselves. My style is often about whimsy and spontaneity. Heck, I created a composition of our family as a scene from Peter Pan.
Why kids portraiture is such a good fit for us:
- They don’t need direction. It might sound funny, but my least favorite part of a photoshoot is directing people. (one reason my wife is great to have with me at times) Sure, we can do family portraits but for the reasons I identified above it’s not a passion in the same sense of creative freedom and approach.
- I want to catch people interacting naturally with their environment/world. There’s no one better at this than kids. Adults have a lot harder of a time doing this than kids because they are focused on how they are being perceived. Children just are.
- We are able to get down on their level. Our photo sessions are often part playing tag, part running, part hiding behind bushes, part laughing, etc. In order to get kids truly interacting with their world they have to be comfortable and the only way to get that way is for us to embrace our own inner child.
- I’m goofy. Sure, I believe in myself but I also believe that the world is far too serious most of the time. Kids gravitate towards this. My wife is probably even better with kids than I am, and having her as a partner helps enable me to zone into my photographic spirit at times while she plays entertainer.
Almost all of our current clients are repeat clients, which says a lot. If you are one of our clients who has hired me to capture memories of your precious kiddos, I want to thank you whole heartedly for not only believing in my talents but for helping me to really identify a niche that I didn’t know was there.