Last year, a company asked me to be a part of a project, that involved taking a self-portrait, that incorporated my “Why”.
I’ve heard a lot of talk of “Why”, in this industry. Your “Why” is the fuel of your business…your mission, your purpose. Many say that if you don’t have a “Why”, you might as well just close up shop. From what I have been taught, every respectable and successful business has a meaningful answer to the question of “Why?”.
All this time, I thought I knew my “Why”. But as I sat down to plan my photo for this project, I realized that I didn’t. What I thought was my “Why”, was really just an interpretation of other photographers’ “Why” statements. It was more of what I thought my answer should be, than what it actually was. I definitely had reasons for why I love what I do and why I felt that being a wedding photographer was meaningful….but none of these explanations touched on the core and heart of my business. Fairytales. The magical, whimsical, and dreamy style that I strived for, was SO important to me. But why? I knew that a “Why” that only covered being a wedding photographer and didn’t touch on the fairytale aspect, would not be specific enough. I shamefully realized that this was something that I had not put thought into.
Over the next few days, I had some minor freakouts. I began second-guessing everything that I had been doing the past couple of years. Was there any meaning behind it? Had I built a business so shallow that it was only about “pretty photos”? Was my style pointless because I wasn’t a photographer that focused on capturing the real and the raw? Amidst my panic, I began scrolling through old posts and reading what people were commenting. How were they interpreting my work?
There were some phrases and words that really resonated with me….things like “This belongs in a storybook” …. “Surreal”….. “Absolutely magical”. As I read these comments, it slowly started coming together. It was then, that I thought of one of the best compliments I had received. A while before that time, someone left me a comment I would never forget. It read:
“Your photos remind me that love is real….so I don’t stop looking”
Then it dawned on me! There were people commenting on the magical and surreal aspects of my work….while others were moved by the genuine love in the photo and they very “real” aspects of it. These very different perspectives were the puzzle pieces that I needed to realize my “Why”… my reason for being not only a photographer, but a fairytale photographer. That reason is….
“To make the world believe in Happily Ever After”
In that moment, it all fell together. I had the power to create enchanted images, from REAL love stories. I could capture true love in a way that is normally only associated with storybooks and fiction. In my own little way, I could change the way people see real love. I could create a testimony that the most magical love stories aren’t just the ones in the movies. The doors began to open and the possibilities felt endless!
Having this new outlook has brought a whole new passion to my craft. I will continue to strive to capture magic in real life fairy tales. For the people who see my photos, I hope to make them believe. I will use extravagant attire and stylized concepts to show real love in a new light. I will seek to prove that these things aren’t just for royalty and characters from books….but that normal people and everyday love are just as extraordinary. And as for the people IN the photos…I want to help enhance the magic in their story. Not just for them, but for future generations.
Maybe one day, my clients will tell their grandchildren bedtime stories about their own journey and my images can help illustrate it. If stories of true, genuine and imperfect love, can be told with images that will showcase it in a perfect way…my job is done.