It wasn’t easy to get a hold of me this past month. Between the birth of my best friends baby in Baltimore and Click Away, I haven’t been as available. On my side of things, it was a needed break to
1. build into friendships and relationships that mean the most to me
2. Get away and reset my heart and passion for what I do
Click Away exceeded every expectation I had. I mean, I wasn’t even planning on going, so when I found myself on a plane headed to Salt Lake City for five days, I was beside myself. I must thank Lauren Ammerman for the amazing opportunity she gave me. She not only gave up her class schedule, but also graciously purchased my flight for me. Wow. Coming off of my trip from Baltimore, there’s no way I could have afforded this extra vacation if it wasn’t for women like her and my roommate Angela Ross. Angela used her travel points for our hotel and also graciously offered the extra bed to me. Double WOW.
So, why was Click Away so amazing? Was it really worth the stress I put myself under as I tried to prep for my class?
Well, I first had the opportunity to meet women who’s journeys I have followed for years on CM or IG. I feel like I know them, yet I was still meeting strangers! As some ladies and I walked to the spot we were eating lunch, I spotted Kirsty Larmour crossing the street and I think I squealed. Starting off the week with that, I knew I was in for a life-changing thing.
I put on my big girl pants as I taught Senior Posing 101. Yes, you read that right. Prior to Click Away, I have NEVER shot a senior. (Well, one who I dragged out the week before to “practice”) Still, being a beginners class to posing, I was able to give tips that apply to ALL women. Just because you may be shooting a tiny 100 lbs senior, doesn’t mean she should lean her hips into the camera, you know?
Then, finally on Saturday, came the big class….Birth Photography: A leap into Photojournalism. I should have named it “A leap into what the heck are you doing here, Courtney?!” As I shared before CA, there is a lot of pressure when it comes to speaking about your business because, in many ways, I am also speaking about myself. My business is a reflection of me, my heart and my failures. Truth is there are still days when I feel like I am failing. Now more than ever.
I decided to take my failure and present them to the group. Essentially, I ripped open my heart and laid it out. I have been hurt by friends, clients and…taxes. I hate taxes. 😉 It was my hope that each woman would learn what it means to value
That is the biggest mistake I see in the birth photography world, a lack of appreciation for what you do and who you are. How can we ever expect our clients to appreciate our work if we don’t even value ourselves? Value MUST be the thing you consider first. Not pricing, what 100 images are worth, but what 100 of YOUR images are worth. If you’re like me, you are dishing up your heart in every single one of them too.
“Do not strive to be a success, but to be of value.”- Einstein
I challenged all the attendees to flip their thinking from “Why should someone hire a birth photographer?” to “Why should someone hire ME as their birth photographer?”
The first question is what makes us devalue ourselves, hoping that our competitive prices will land a client. The second question draws out our confidence. You should hire me because look at who I am. I am worth it. I have placed a high value on myself and so should you.
The other thing I see too much of in the birth photography world is photographers blasting their clients on closed forums. Just reading that makes you a bit sick, doesn’t it? There is definitely room for support or asking for a listening ear from peers, but let’s be real, ladies. In a forum of 500+ photographers, we aren’t all your peers. We are professionals. Let me repeat that…WE ARE PROFESSIONALS.
As birth photographers we signed on to document someone else’s birth story. It’s not my birth experience and it isn’t yours. It belongs to our clients. That’s why I call myself a photojournalist. I’m not there to give advice or advocate for an un-medicated birth. I’m not there to remind my client that there’s no need for the OB to break her water this early or that pitocin raises the risk of a cesarean. I’m the photographer. The plain fact of what is happening is what puts “birth” in my title. At it’s core I am , plain and simple, a photographer.
I do not understand what give some photographers the guts to go on social media and blast their clients birth story! Writing things like “You will never believe what happened at my client’s birth…..”. I never, never, never, never want any of my clients to wonder if I am speaking poorly of the decisions they made (or didn’t). It’s not my story. I’m not the one that gets to write it. If I wanted to be an advocate for how I thought every birth should happen, I’d be a midwife or OB.
I’m ranting, I know. I just wish some of these birth photographers would get off their high horse and find the things to celebrate, even if there is only one. Celebrate your client! Regardless if it was via cesarean or with forceps, a HUMAN BEING CAME OUT OF HER BODY. One that she grew for 9 looonnnggg months. One that she will care for and raise for 18 years. If you need to “vent”, find an actual peer or friend and message them. Doesn’t your client deserve that respect?
And here are pictures from Click Away….