Today is Sunday
Do you have a passion that you just can’t let go of? (Un)fortunately for me, I’m a bit like our ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd, I work 24-7, I never take a day ‘off’ from Beth Jennings Photography. Even if I’m on a day trip to the coast with no camera, I’ll still be mulling something over. I refer to my business and passion now as BJP. This has become my brand, this thing called ‘BJP.’ To get some perspective on what I’m doing, I try to take a day off but really, that never happens. This work I’m doing is really my passion and my life:
– I dream (and agonise) about things that happen with clients
– I deliberate over images
– I spend hours perfecting my craft
– I blog and twitter and facebook
– I network with other photographers
– I go to Melbourne for the print awards and to source new products
– I labour over which pictures to put into various prestigious competitions
… and around it goes again
– I invested three years full time of my life learning how to master the craft
– I’m investigating further study options and my next exhibition
– I research markets and retail opportunities
– I read books on branding, marketing, blogging
– I worry about the future of the work I’ve created
…Is there a point to doing all this? Well, yes, to create an amazing and highly valued product for the future, because that’s what I do. I create memories for the future, and that takes time, a unique vision, dedication and professional skill.
Today I went to a local market that brands itself as selling ‘Unique. Stylish. Beautiful kids stuff.’ How do you perceive the word ‘stuff’? To me, it’s code for a word like ‘junk’ or maybe even ‘crap’. Even the titling for the market admits it: yes, we sell quality stuff. Not produce, not items, not things, not treasures…yep, we sell stuff. This market was held at arguably the highest end hotel in town, the mummies and daddies walking around there are probably rather wealthy mummies and daddies judging by the outfits of the children and the brand names of their teddie bears. This was a quality, high end market selling stuff. I just couldn’t help thinking what sort of world we live in that such a beautiful market as that feels compelled to brand itself as selling stuff? Because the reality is that they were far from selling stuff, they were selling high quality, beautiful, amazing, precious, lovingly hand made items that its user would probably keep for longer than a day or a week or a season. Those items ought to last a lifetime, you know, like back in the good old days when things were made to last. There were two photographers there, both colleagues and friends who have awesome work. I know their photographs ought to last a lifetime along with all those other beautiful items…
Do I want to market myself at a market that tells everybody it sells ‘stuff’? And why does it feel the need to dumb down what it does? Does it worry that it won’t pull the punters if it says it sells ‘Unique. Stylish. Beautiful children’s treasures’. Why can’t the market shout from the roof tops that the products they endorse are of high quality, are rare in their breed, and that everything there has been made with craftsmanship and pride? Does this concept not resonate with people? Or in fact do we want more than just ‘stuff’? Do we want treasures? Now, just to get pesonal, I really own almost nothing: my worldly possessions amount to a few high quality, grade A items: my single camera and one lens, a computer, monitor, a small car and a studio filled with my treasures as examples of what I might create for you with your family story. The rest of my worldly treasures reside in my passport. I know I’m sold to the idea of quality over quantity, the question is, are the people out there as well? Are you? What do you place first in the order of material possessions?
I’ve been suspecting for a while that I’m trying to create a quality product in a world that just doesn’t value it. Or maybe people that see my product do value quality but just don’t understand when they’re looking at quality photography? Maybe people think quality photography doesn’t exist? Or maybe we are all just told we don’t need the quality when we can have the quantity. I’m not sure about this, but I think maybe I was born a generation too late… I went to the National Portrait Gallery today and I read ‘LoFi is the new black.’ It was in reference to an exhibition showcasing digital art and was an analysis by artists of the digital world we now live in. The quote was in reference to music, that the masses now value quantity over quality – people would rather have their millions of songs squashed down to low quality mp3 format on their ipod, than to lovingly handle their carefully selected vinyl records….yes perhaps I agree that ‘LoFi is the new black’…but where does this leave me with my message of quality over quantity in the treasures I create for you?
I blogged a couple of weeks ago about how my friend’s mother passed away, and she held on for months. She only finally let go when she had her final last kiss to her husband of 63 years surrounded by her four children. What it boiled down to, was being around her family in her dying moments. It wasn’t about the plasma screen, it wasn’t about the flashy car, it wasn’t about the plethora of toys for her grandkids, it was about her family. My ‘followers’ also share this value: the Trishs and Tinas and Nicoles and Kates and Karinas and Mels and Gabrielas and Clares and Lauras (and many others, and their husbands) of the world, that live abundant lives in terms of love, laughter and life.
They know their precious, beautiful children will grow and change faster than they can keep up with.
They know how fast life flashes by.
They are accutely aware that they’ll blink and be walking their daughter down the isle or sharing a beer at the pub with their grown son.
They know that the other fancy things come second.
They know that capturing these vital moments is not optional, it’s essential.
They also know when they see what I’ve done with their family story, that I captured their unique and special family in my unique and special way. Because that’s what ‘BJP.’ is – it’s my unique and special way of holding your family memories, it’s Beth Jennings Photography. I make quality treasures today for your future. I hold time, I reach in to the heart of your family, and hold its essence. Sounds a bit intense, I know, in reality the photo session is fun and I do all the work. Yes, it takes time for me to do it. Yes, it’s far from a shoot and burn approach. And yes, I’ve discovered that this isn’t what everybody does when they sell portrait photography. And yes, those pictures will just keep on giving. And yes, if your house is burning down, it’ll be the first thing you’ll run for. It’s vital. It creates a time capsule for the future. It’s life! How could you not do it? Funny how many people are sold to the idea of investing in quality photography for their wedding day, and yet the point and shoot camera with the red-eye flash comes out when their first born comes into the world…huh? This idea of holding the moment stops as life goes on. But isn’t it about the marriage and not about the wedding? Or is that just me?
Recently I met a new family who came to know about me from another very happy family, and the mother said to me ‘we want you to feel our family, not just see it’. Gave me goose bumps…and made me smile…because that’s what I do…and I can’t wait to get started on her family story.