As a professional in pretty much any arena, continuing education and training are “a thing”. Education, medical, technological…and photography. As a professional photographer, I am continually on the lookout for new training, image critic from industry leading mentors, and feedback from my clients. A few things I have been up to recently in order to grow as a professional are attending Shutterfest 2019 back in April…3 days of workshops and hands-on training with recognized photography experts from around the country; studying for, preparing images, and applying for accreditation from Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International; and joining International Association of Professional Birth Photographers. To achieve acceptance in a couple of these, I had to submit examples of my work thus opening myself up to seemingly minute criticism. For APNPI specifically, I had a written interview, a safety test, and had to resubmit images 3 times in order to qualify. And, just today, I subjected one of my favorite images for feedback from a panel of judges representing newborn photography in the USA, England, and New Zealand.
The image below was taken during a Fresh 48 session back in February. I have received a lot of positive feedback from it and, to be honest, submitted it today more for emotional props than education…
…but I learned something anyway. The judges loved the way I composed this image. They loved the storytelling and connection of Mom and Dad with their precious little one. They talked over all the “yes!” of this image and then they made a suggestion: put it in Black and White. Their reasoning? The variation of colors and highlights make it more difficult for the eyes to focus on what truly matters…the family. So, I did.
And immediately I agreed with the experts! As the photographer, I already knew the backstory of this image. I was there to “feel” the emotion in the room. But the color image misses that “feel”. The story is there alright…brand new baby adored by Mom and Dad…enough time postpartum for there to be remains of lunch on the table…baby “stuff” already exploding into parents’ lives. But in Black and White that story is still there while placing the focus back on the family where it belongs.
As a professional, an artist and a human being, it is vital for me to never feel that I have “arrived”. To cease to grow is to begin to die. Being entrusted by families to create images that truly captures their story is a privilege I do not take lightly. As your family grows and changes, I would be honored to preserve your story for generations to come.