Repeat after me, “I am a Lifestyle Portrait Photographer…”

Hi.  My name is Kaydee.  I am a Lifestyle Portrait Photographer.  Somebody please smack me the next time I try to forget this simple fact and complicate my work.

In 2004, I was sitting in my living room floor in Northport, Alabama (If you don’t know Northport, think Tuscaloosa — and we lived there because we went to school at The University of Alabama) on the blue”ish” carpet with my jaw hanging open at the portrait work of an artist in New Zealand.  She called her work “Lifestyle Portraits” and I knew instantly this was what I wanted to do with my photography.

I had within the last four years spent two semesters studying darkroom photography at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and followed those with several more in Tuscaloosa — eventually graduating in 2006.  I never saw myself shooting portraits.  I grew up with this larger than life dream of shooting wildlife for National Geographic.  As the end of my college days crept up on me, I realized quickly that the entire point of a college degree is to a) get a job and b) make money at said job…  National Geographic wasn’t exactly plucking me out of the countless other young lady “college togs” in the country, so something relating to my actual talent and degree that ALSO created cash flow had to be discovered.

So I  will never forget this day, sitting on the floor of our home in Northport because I was filled with the joy and relief at “Here is something I can do with my love of photography AND maybe just possibly also have a steady income…”

So I humbly thank my Heavenly Father for providing me with this gift that does bring me joy (and more importantly that I can use to shine His light) — but that also allows me to support myself and my children now that the need is critical.

And just as with any other job, shining God’s light is easier when you find joy in what you do.  But I have spent the last two years of my life under an extreme amount of stress and part of that stress has led me to abandon the very simple vision of my work as a lifestyle portrait artist. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to death.  Whether it is a young woman comparing her body to an airbrushed model in a magazine or a stay at home mom over extending her mind and body to put on the perfect pinterest party –we get easily caught up in what media tells us our lives SHOULD be… And the same goes for trying to make a living at portrait photography.

You can watch everyone else seemingly know exactly what they are doing while you tread water until you drown… OR you can swim.  Your way.  And it is critical to swim your own way because the client will know the difference. They can feel whether or not you are passionate about what you’re doing and will often make their decisions based on your own passion for your work.

Sometimes we can’t control our jobs.  We have to work for the money.  We need the funds to support our families, so we do the job. (and hopefully well because any job done well brings glory to God)  At other times we get to pour more of ourselves out into our work and feel the thrill of a personal vision brought to life along with a job well done.

This is Lifestyle Portrait photography for me — the place where I get to take my freedom in my personal Savior Jesus Christ and put it to an image in print.

At the same time, over the last six months, I’ve discovered another passion in school portraits because I get to meet and interact with such a large number of children in a short period of time — children whose parents could not easily afford my lifestyle portrait work and I might not meet otherwise.  I’m so excited about this new possibility in shooting traditional school portraits to help me support my more personal work.

So here’s to getting back on track.  Swimming.  and any other metaphor I randomly tossed in this blurb… You’ve got to remain focused on your own personal vision and have faith in it’s validity.  The quickest way to lose yourself is to waste your time following one step behind everyone else.