over the last two months, i’ve been sharing an essay i wrote at the start of year in small increments as a photo series on instagram. i wanted to share it here too:
i like to start each year working on my business.
that could include learning something new, reflecting on the year gone by, updating portfolios, experimenting with my camera, planning out newsletters and content, or even just getting excited and inspired about the work i’ll be creating in the year ahead.
last year, i spent my january completing a marketing class. and while it certainly included some helpful info, what stuck with me the most was an exercise that went against everything i believe in as an artist and a business owner.
it started out simply enough, “define your ideal client.”
i’ve photographed enough families over the past seventeen years to have a pretty good understanding of the people who are the best fit for my style of work. but when i saw the criteria listed for identifying these clients, i was taken aback.
there were questions about the amount of education you’ve completed. about your job and marital status and who would play you in a movie. about how much you might choose to spend on a pair of jeans, and which store you would buy them from.
i knew immediately that focusing on these things to grow my business was not for me.
and so i decided to define my “ideal client” in my own terms.
because while i can definitely see the value in the exercise, it really doesn’t matter to me how old you were when you had kids, or where you went to school, or how much money is in your bank account.
what really matters is that you love your family.
it’s as simple as that.
my ideal client is not “perfect”, and doesn’t feel the need to be.
you can appreciate all of the quirks and moments and mannerisms that make your family unique and want desperately to hold onto and remember those tiny details years down the road.
and that question they asked about your jeans…
whether you buy yours at a local boutique, a big box store, or the thrift shop down the street, my only care is that you feel damn good in them every time you pull them on for the day.
(and if you’re not into jeans, i see you in your comfy sweats, your flowy dresses, your favourite old sweater…)
what’s most important is that you do you.
your home might be big or small. it could be right in the middle of the city or tucked away into the trees by a lake. bright and airy or full of colour, it’s very possible it features a drawer or a closet or maybe a whole room where things with no home go to be forgotten,
but it’s definitely filled with life.
with learning, growing, loving, imperfect humans. who laugh and bicker and snuggle and laugh again. and depending on your phase of life, with splashy bath times or messy art projects or feisty card game battles. (and snacks. can’t forget the snacks.)
your home can be a whole lot of different things, what matters most are the people and the memories made inside of it.
you might be a bit nervous about being in front of a camera. maybe about what to wear. or how you look in photos. or if the kids will behave the way you hope.
but what’s most important is that you know you can trust me to tell your story with care. and that any butterflies you might feel beforehand will be well worth it.
you want to remember the magic in these messy, beautiful, blurry, ordinary days.
your days are filled to the brim.
at any given moment your roles might include being a short order cook, a mediator, a chauffeur, a cheerleader, a confidante — the list is endless. and yet you understand that these very long days will add up to some very short years.
as tired as you may be, you can appreciate how important it is to make time to celebrate and remember this chapter in your family’s story. and you know a family photo session can be the perfect opportunity to do just that.
you much prefer seeing the authentic moments and tiny details in your family’s story over forced smiles and stiff poses, and you want to remember all of those little things when you look back at your photos years down the road.
you value photographs that document not just how good you all look (and i promise, you look fantastic), but also how much you love each other and the way you live your days.
because while there is certainly value in photos that remind you how you all looked on one specific day, you’re most interested in the ones that show who you all were. the kind of photos that transport you to a moment in time you may never get back, but now you get to hold on to forever. a photo time capsule if you will.
you can appreciate the humour in outtakes and silly behaviour. and the sweetness in cuddles and quiet.
you’re not afraid to venture off the beaten path. to bend the rules. to get a little dirty. to try something new.
you love photos that tell stories with layers and light and love. and you’d much rather be photographed doing life with your family than just sitting still and smiling at the camera.
connection over perfection.
you appreciate storytelling and creativity. you can see the art and magic and beauty in the chaos of your ordinary days. and when it comes to your photos, you’ll take sprinkles over vanilla any day.
you’re willing to get on the ground and laugh and play, and are not afraid to slow down to allow time for big feelings. and while you know that though some phases of life are harder than others, you can appreciate that there is light alongside the shadows. beauty found in the blur. and magic hiding in both the calm and the chaos.
you can see the extraordinary in your ordinary.
while your days are full and imperfect and often a little bit messy, in your downtime, you love to look back at photos and savour the tiny bits of magic that made those frozen moments in time worth remembering.
and however you choose to display your photos — whether that’s on your walls, in a book, on your phone or computer, or any combo of the three — i just hope you look at them all of the time.
as i noted in my journal during that workshop last january:
my target client is not an avatar.
you can’t be narrowed down into a list of specific criteria that need to be met.
you are multi-faceted, imperfect humans wanting to see and remember the magic in your ordinary, extraordinary days.
if this sounds like you, i would love nothing more than to work with your family this year.
to tell a piece of your story. to show you the goodness i see in you. to create a love letter to this chapter in your lives.
simply reply to this email and let’s start chatting about the best ways to make that happen.
i can’t wait to hear from you.