My first paying job as a photographer was in a portrait studio in Waunakee, Wisconsin in 1976. Mostly I did retouching, but sometimes I got to be behind the camera in the studio. Ever since I was a kid I've loved making pictures of faces, so I was thrilled to be paid to do so.

Being a fine art photographer is an expensive habit. How to fund that habit is something most of my peers and I have had to constantly grapple with along the way. I've done so by hanging my shingle as a portrait photographer no matter where I've lived. I hesitate to call it "work." It's one of the most joyful things I do.

Since moving full-time to Portland this past August, I've struggled to get customers. I don't have the 38-year history I had in Kansas City, thus I know only a small number of people. In Kansas City, I was well into photographing the children of kids whose portraits I'd made when they were little! I had a few clients who brought their children to my studio on each birthday. Libby, a favorite subject of mine, came for her first sitting at the age of one and didn't miss a year for the next 18! 

One of the things I love most about photography itself is its capacity to measure time, to measure change, to document aging. I've always been a sucker for Nicholas Nixon's "The Brown Sisters" series, for example.

Not having a reputation as a portraitist here in Portland has required that I do what my daughter calls "portfolio building." That's when you offer your services for free (or very little) to a few people, ask them to tell their friends about you, and encourage them to share the heck out of the images you've given them. That's pretty much where I am right now, and I must admit it's really fun. After all, are there many better gifts you can offer someone than portraits of their family?

One of my first "portfolio building" families was this beautiful young boy's. His mom and my daughter have been best friends since 2nd grade. I can't tell you how many pictures I've made of this guy's mom over the years (since 1987!). What a blessing to be able to document the next generation. 

I've got one more free session on the books, and then I'm hoping some calls begin to roll in. Rebuilding a business in a new location is a challenge, but I'm sure having fun doing so.


 

My Blog

Portraits

2/4/2019

My first paying job as a photographer was in a portrait studio in Waunakee, Wisconsin in 1976. Mostly I did retouching, but sometimes I got to be behind the camera in the studio. Ever since I was a kid I've loved making pictures of faces, so I was thrilled to be paid to do so.

Being a fine art photographer is an expensive habit. How to fund that habit is something most of my peers and I have had to constantly grapple with along the way. I've done so by hanging my shingle as a portrait photographer no matter where I've lived. I hesitate to call it "work." It's one of the most joyful things I do.

Since moving full-time to Portland this past August, I've struggled to get customers. I don't have the 38-year history I had in Kansas City, thus I know only a small number of people. In Kansas City, I was well into photographing the children of kids whose portraits I'd made when they were little! I had a few clients who brought their children to my studio on each birthday. Libby, a favorite subject of mine, came for her first sitting at the age of one and didn't miss a year for the next 18! 

One of the things I love most about photography itself is its capacity to measure time, to measure change, to document aging. I've always been a sucker for Nicholas Nixon's "The Brown Sisters" series, for example.

Not having a reputation as a portraitist here in Portland has required that I do what my daughter calls "portfolio building." That's when you offer your services for free (or very little) to a few people, ask them to tell their friends about you, and encourage them to share the heck out of the images you've given them. That's pretty much where I am right now, and I must admit it's really fun. After all, are there many better gifts you can offer someone than portraits of their family?

One of my first "portfolio building" families was this beautiful young boy's. His mom and my daughter have been best friends since 2nd grade. I can't tell you how many pictures I've made of this guy's mom over the years (since 1987!). What a blessing to be able to document the next generation. 

I've got one more free session on the books, and then I'm hoping some calls begin to roll in. Rebuilding a business in a new location is a challenge, but I'm sure having fun doing so.