Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.
In the recent past, I have been part of a mentorship program in which I have worked with several emerging photographers at different levels. It doesn’t take most aspiring photographers long to figure out that a considerable part of the general public love and respect photography, although they mainly see it as a great creative outlet or hobby. Many people don’t think of photography as a career, I am guessing this is due to many reasons. That doesn’t make it so. Technology is nothing new. Film SLR’s eventually had autofocus capabilities, there were point and shoot film and digital cameras, the list goes on. Now point and shoot cameras have been replaced by smart phones. It’s a convenience available to everyone. Most people know that doesn’t make them photographers, nor do they need it to. Most of what people do is shoot pictures of things they would never have wasted film on in years past. Photographers still have a purpose, it’s just a matter of each one finding their client. What gives the public an indifferent attitude towards hiring professional photographers? Let’s discuss.
Look at antique photographs –
Photographers were once considered skilled tradesmen (Or women, just a general term) and rightfully so. Look in antique shops for family or portrait photos from 100 years ago. You can see the skill the photographers possessed and the attention to detail. Look at the lighting and composition, and how well the prints have held up. This was not done by taking shortcuts. Even though far fewer professional photographers operate in studios anymore, 100 years later, you’d think technology would enable more impressive photography. If you can look at photography from past professionals and a good percentage of photographers today and not wonder why we’ve gone backwards in quality, you’re not paying attention. The shortcuts and lack of understanding of theory from more photographers today helped decline the perceived value of photography.
No entry barriers-
Logic should prevail, it’s not a good long-term decision to get into a business you don’t know and understand. It takes research and working as an apprentice, and learning from experience to hone your craft to be able to carry a business. Many don’t want to do that anymore, and the pricing numbers are arbitrarily picked by some newer photographers. I’m not begrudging newcomers. But there is a difference between making a good hourly wage and running a sustainable business. We’ve reached a time in society where you don’t even have to be a great photographer to be financially successful. It’s all about the marketing and personality. There are some great photographers who aren’t great at marketing who perish, sadly. But that’s where we are.
How can customers think of photography as a career when it’s not operated like a business? –
Professional photographers who put out great work and operate professionally will command their rates from the right clients. There are also newer photographers who don’t use contracts, invoicing, or truly have any idea how to operate a business. For a low stakes photoshoot, fine. But there are times when you have to hire a professional, but it won’t be as cheap. You get what you pay for. Not every client will get that, and that’s ok. A true professional is measured by their skill, attention to detail, how they conduct business, and most important of all; how they perform in less than ideal conditions.
The tools are more readily accessible, and more people are trying it. Pans don’t make the chef. Professional photographers, we have to keep our eye on the prize and realize things change, and keep pushing on as long as it works for us. Part of doing business is setting boundaries and avoiding the wrong clients. It’s harder work than many think. If someone doesn’t want to pay my price, so be it. I’m not out to get rich, but I don’t feel like giving away what took me years to learn, and what I’ve invested in my business. I can’t worry about public perception, although most understand the value of hiring the right people for the right job. Some learn from their mistakes, others keep repeating them, Nero fiddled, George played golf.
I was thrilled to hear back from Anthony and Brian, a couple whose wedding I photographed fixe years ago. Since they got married, life happened with job changes and relocation, though their travels would always take them back to the Nashville area they call home. The most exciting news for them is they are now a family of three, with a toddler boy they adopted. The trio was planning to return to their home church in Brentwood to have their son christened now that the adoption process is finalized. I was honored to be asked to do photograph the special occasion. During the Covid-19 pandemic and churches just recently at partial capacity, and people wearing face masks, I wasn’t sure how the photos would be affected, I quickly realized I was just doing modern documentary photography that represent a time in history. One I’d like to put behind us, but none of us will soon forget.
Even with wedding photography, the weather is usually not ideal. Instead of trying to document the day a different way, as a documentary photographer, I like to accurately represent the weather and tell the story around it, Masks may be unsettling, but that’s where are now, for the first time in 100 years. The masks could not hide the love that surrounds their family, and journalism is designed to tell a story based on the true event. Not something staged, This documentation of the baby christening especially during the pandemic, it’s modern documentary photography and a true account of the event. Not to mention the love and excitement shared by everyone in attendance.
We are far from out of the woods with Covid-19, but people are carrying out their activities and using caution, as are responsible businesses. As for me, I have systems in place to protect both myself and my clients during this time. Many people are getting back to work, finding new jobs, or even new careers, and need an updated headshot. One might wonder, what is the safest and easiest way to get a headshot in these strange times? Once you contact me and we set up a day and time (please be advised that similar to other business, availability may be slightly limited, but not to worry, I’m here to serve) the visit will be contactless. I will wear a face mask for your safety.
Studio headshots or location headshots are brief. Payments are done electronically through online invoice. All proofing is done electronically for the time being. I love visiting with clients and doing this in person, but this is where we are for now. Once favorites are selected, I do a basic retouch and deliver files electronically. Most clients receive their final files within one business day from when favorites are selected. Old pricing has remained, the same great quality remains. The easiest way to get a headshot is right here. When can we schedule yours?
Just a quick note inviting everyone to subscribe to my official Jay Farrell Photography Youtube channel. I’m a still photographer and love the moods provided through texture, emotion, lighting, etc. to give the photograph proper drama and character to stand on its own. Though I’m not a videographer, I love using video format to place photos together, and make digital slideshows for wedding clients. It’s a fun and concise way to put a story together not only for the couple, but for the couple to share their event photo highlights with their loved ones. I also have a separate playlist for my book video trailers, titled Jay Farrell Author.
For the better part of two decades, in two different locations, I have walked through the doors of Dury’s camera shop countless times, getting supplied with gear I needed. I loved the experience of talking to knowledgeable staff and putting my hands on the cameras, lenses, and other photography equipment i’ve purchased there over the years. I’ve made friends with several of the employees, and thankfully I had the experience that unfortunately, the next generation of photographers won’t know anything about. I will miss the banter, the Fuji days, sensor cleaning days, used camera days, and even the workshops. Dury’s opened in 1882, and although in recent years, manufacturer markup and inventory has been tough on local camera shops, the Covid-19 pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for them, and other business because of having to close for over two months. I never anticipated having to say farewell to Dury’s when I started this year off, but sadly, that’s where we are now.
Local shops are important because they’re made up of local families, and of course the reasons I stated above. Also, more than once, I needed something in short order before a photoshoot or wedding, and they were there for me. It wasn’t just a local business, but a community for creative artists. In recent years, consumer habits have changed, Change is inevitable. Though, quite honestly, it irritates me to no end when people act as if they’re sad to see a local business fold, when they’ve only bought from the 800 pound gorillas. Another low form of human life are those who use the expertise of the store and then buy online to save tax. Well, now we lost our only local camera shop. This is a clubbing blow to the area photography community, though Dury’s did announce in their closing statement, that Roberts Camera in Indianapolis is a partner retailer, and I plan on supporting them. It won’t be the same as walking into Dury’s, but I’m thankful to at least have another independent camera shop to support. Although I’m sad to say farewell to Dury’s, I’m grateful for the memories and friendships I’ll always have. Protect the small business. Support your scene or watch it die.