I recently attended WPPI, the Wedding and Portrait Photographers’ International convention in Las Vegas. It’s the biggest education event for photographers and I was thrilled to soak up all the info my little brain could hold in one week.
What does that have to do with precious images of newborns?? Let me explain…..One of the most insightful lectures I attended was given by Jeff Jochum. He has mentored, coached and marketed for individual photographers and mega companies (Pictage, Smugmug, etc.) and listening to his theories regarding success in the photography industry was like music to my ears. His core message is the art of specialism– a message to entrepreneurs to become experts in their field by fully embracing who THEY are.
“Anyone can copy what you DO;
No one can copy WHO you are.” -Jeff Jochum
He told a story about the early 1900s when the town’s dentist was also the town’s barber. We giggle at that notion now but this is a perfect analogy for the argument of generalism v. specialism. Back then, the guy who invested in the one CHAIR that the 2 professions had in common felt the need to use that CHAIR for all its capabilities. If it was great for cutting a guy’s hair in AND for extracting a lady’s tooth- then hang a sign on the door and go for it! Over time, as populations increased, this profession soon became two distinctly different career paths since clients began to demand specialism. I know I wouldn’t want my stylist performing a root canal (or my dentist handling my roots!) and I expect these professions to have very different educational paths.
Anyone can copy what you DO; No one can copy WHO you are. -Jeff Jochum
This spoke to me so much regarding photography. When a digital camera first entered my life in 2008, I took photos of anything and everything. I had to. Not only did I need to pay my bills but I wasn’t sure yet what my “specialty” was so I took on jobs with families, newborns, weddings, corporate events, high school seniors, etc. etc.. Beginning in 2010, it became very evident to me that God designed me to be a wedding photographer. I adore the fast pace, the challenge of constantly changing lighting and locations and the emotional highs/lows I could capture in just one day. I walk fast, talk fast and love organized chaos. Wedding photography lit me up on the inside and I was hooked. I recognized that same year that newborn photography was not my gift. It requires great patience and a very tender set of hands who are just as happy sitting and loving on a baby as they are behind the lens. That is not my gift. I have two girls whom I love dearly but my favorite stages were the funny, silly toddler years and not the infant stage as much.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers: The Story of Success, Mr. Gladwell says that if you examine the greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians and scientists you will notice they only emerged after spending at least three hours a day for ten years practicing. I devoted my time and study to wedding photography because I knew I could excel in this area of “specialism”. But then clients (former brides/grooms) kept contacting me regarding newborn photography and I wasn’t sure where the path would lead.
So, God led me to Angela Braniff. I had long admired her beautiful newborn photography for years. Her deep love and connection with these tiny babies is evident in her work. She can coax and mold these little ones into the most angelic poses. Watching her in action is amazing. She knows how to touch and soothe these babies as if they were her own. With four little ones at home herself, she has the gift of a nurturing spirit and it shows in her amazing work. Adding her to the Old South Studios team in 2013 was yet another act of specialism. I do not have the gift that she does. We have the same camera, same lenses and same lighting equipment BUT…only she has the gift. She is nearing her 5th year as a newborn photographer and I know I can speak for all the Mamas who have seen her cuddle, hold and mold their brand new babies when I say that she is truly a specialist. I tip my hat to her as a person, as a mother and a newborn photographer.
Take a quick peek at what she created yesterday with these two week old twins. This Mommy and Daddy cannot put a price on this image. These children were prayed for and wanted for many years before their arrival. You could have placed the same camera, same lens and same lighting equipment in my hands, I would never have been able to capture the type of images Angela did. These children deserved Angela’s magical touch in our studio.
Meet Dawson and Madeline. We think they are pretty special.