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To simplify, I'm a cowboy's wife, ranch-kid mama, rural living home-maker (hallelujah Amazon Prime!) and traveling photographer capturing the love & life stories of our western culture.
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The first year of Paisley’s life has taught me a lot about being a mommy & photographer. Mostly that I didn’t need a perfect little world in order to raise a happy baby or take amazing picture. I’ve learned to take pictures even when the background is messy, when the floor isn’t swept and yes, even when she isn’t wearing a big flower headband.
I LOVE BEING A MOMMY!!! There is just nothing like it and I am not eloquent enough to describe the fun I am having. Ok…yes there are some of those moments involving things that no one wants to read about, but it is 110% worth every wrinkled nose!
I’ve been working on pulling together images from the last year to design a personal album and I thought I’d share with you some things I’ve learned since becoming a “Mom with a Camera.”
But you have to scroll through a few (ok, a LOT) of my beautiful little girl’s pictures first.
Because I am like that.
Things I’ve learned about being a new mom as a professional photographer:
1. Take those imperfect pictures in an messy house. (I think I say this a lot.)
They will be your favorites, I promise. This is my beautiful messy reality and if I waited until my home looked like my favorite www.Pinterest.com/lyndseygarber board I would never take photos.
2. Try to be in a few pictures even when you feel less than pretty.
Besides, they will be great for before/after pictures once I’ve lost those 50 eeerrrr, now 70 pounds. I’ve used a remote trigger and a tripod set up at the end of the bed to capture some shots of Paisley and I playing while making the bed. You wouldn’t catch me posting them in public because my hair was horrible and I was in awful frumpy PJ’s…but they are special to me!
3. Don’t be so busy “capturing memories” for everyone else that your own precious moments get put on the back burner.
Or you will be like me and a whole month will go by before you know it. I have no “big camera” pictures of 4 month old Paisley.
I had a sad realization earlier this year that I didn’t really have a burning desire to pick up my camera and take pictures for me because I was just plain tired after taking pictures for others. I knew in that moment I’d let my focus shift to being the “photographer” more than being “mom-mom-mom-mom.” I had to take a deep breath, slow down and refocus on being a wife, mother and homemaker.
4. Pick up your camera and take pictures of your little day-to-day details a couple of times a week.
And I’m not talking your iPhone for selfies (or is it usies). While those are cute, nothing can compare to the quality of your “big camera”. Some of my favorite pictures are of bath time, eating cheerios, diaper changes or simply crawling around the house.
5. Have a system to keep your personal images organized.
This is VERY important! I have a specific camera card labeled just for my personal pictures. I keep this card in my camera when I am at home. Otherwise I have personal pictures scattered in with client pictures and it is a hassle to sort and organize. And if you are like me, it is easy to burry and loose track of personal pictures in with thousands of client pictures.
Desktop Folder system > Personal Photos | 2014 >> Personal | January 2014 & then >>> Originals | January 2014 >>> Finalized | January 2014
When I export my personal files from Lightroom I rename them “garbers3.2014-0123.jpg” using the month and year the image was taken with but keeping the original file number so I can quickly find the original RAW image if desired. At the end of the year, or whenever I want to see all my 2014 images, all I have to search for is “garbers” and it will pull up all 12 months worth of photos in order!
6. It takes 2x…ok more like 11x longer to cull, edit and produce client images when you are trying to keep another human being alive and healthy.
Plan accordingly. Pray for long naps and buy caffeine in bulk for those all-nighters.
My clients happen to be the sweetest ones a new mommy could ask for! But even with that, I have learned to cut my workload down significantly so that I can better stay on schedule. It isn’t a matter of if but WHEN a throwing-up or teething baby can consume an entire week. But even with a busy schedule and people anxious to see their pictures I’ve learned that holding, playing with and enjoying my baby girl should always take priority. Hence the need for some of those “all-nighters” to keep up with work, but very worth it.
7. Take your big camera everywhere possible and even places that seem impossible. (You’ll be braver if your equipment is insured. LOL)
I can TELL you the dozens of times I have kicked myself for leaving my camera behind because I didn’t want to bother with it. And some of my favorite moments captured have been when I took my camera “just because” and it was within reach when the magic happened. When all else fails use your iPhone but download, backup and PRINT those pictures too! Ps. And I love the VSCO Cam app for mobile editing!
8. Shoot from unique angles.
I easily get bored with common angles. Getting lower, shooting through objects and layering make for great creative shots that get me excited. And the more I do it, the more creative I get! In the early months of motherhood when there was a lot of time rocking and holding the baby day and night, I watched courses, read articles and observed the work of “Lifestyle Photographers”. Look them up and soak in their work. Prior to motherhood I hadn’t thought much about the documentary aspect of photography but now I’ve learned to really enjoy it!
9. Think quality over quantity.
Lots of pictures are WONDERFUL. But I have to make a conscious effort to slow down, think about my desired shot and set it up. Ideally I then take 3-5 shots then set the camera down and back away slowly. 103 pictures of my baby asleep in the swing is just way too much. Unless you want to spend a small fortune in hard drives, then go for it.
10. Learn a balance between “professional portraits” and the “lifestyle approach”.
For me I have two photography modes: Intense professional where I’m all business, packing 20 pounds of gear on my Money Maker, working to find perfect lighting and producing the kind of work my clients pay me thousands of dollars for. And then there is my laid back look: camera in one hand coffee in the other where I’m just snapping a picture here or there, one might be blurry but who cares.
In Paisley’s first year I bounced from one extreme to the other. In the first few months of her life I didn’t take that many pictures unless everything was “professionally perfect” and client quality. I couldn’t relax and just enjoy some sweet moments because well…the light was coming in the wrong window! Then I decided I needed to do a more documentary approach…. so I went the next 6 months where they are all candid and cute, but nothing with a real portrait feel to it. Now looking back, I realize I miss that I didn’t take a few more posed shots during that time.
11. PRINT YOUR PERSONAL PICTURES and backup your digitals.
4×6’s, leather bound albums, canvas wraps, collage frames…DO IT. And I mean NOW. I have never regretted investing in quality products. In this digital era you’ve GOT to make it a personal priority to make hard copies of your memories. Extra’s can always go to grandma.
Backup your backups. I have a personal system involving a bunch (<< understatement) of hard drives and a lot of work. But it’s worth it and so important. I know because I’ve learned this the hard way. And while I can’t cloud storage everything, I will take my top 3-6 favorites every month and put them in a private folder like Dropbox or Flickr. So even if I burn the house down cooking tacos, I will always have those copies stored.
12. (Oh look, I can’t shut up. But who’s counting?) Holding, playing with and enjoying my baby girl should always take priority.
Did I mention I have awesome clients? But I’ve learned the hard way that I need to be CAREFUL in how much I pile onto my plate. All too quickly I can get buried under thousands of photos, rushed by excited clients and focused on deadline. While Paisley is a really easy going, self entertaining and low maintenance baby…she still needs a mommy who isn’t stuck at the dest 10 hours a day.
So while all the other things I’ve learned about being a photographer & mommy are all important…I have to say that the MOST important thing I have personally learned is knowing when to say no as a photographer so that I can be the mommy I need to be!
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