It’s an early Saturday morning in May when I feel the sun hit my closed eyelids. My brain is immediately alert. Is that…
”AH IT’S GOLDEN HOUR ALREADY and where is my cameraaaaaa???”
I have a senior session starting at 8 AM (at the latest), and I only use all natural light, so I’d better be on the road in the next half hour.
Oh no, my battery isn’t charged (either mentally or physically–my camera is utterly dead). I grab one from my mom before running out the door with a protein shake and camera bag in hand.
In rural Wyoming, there aren’t many ideal places for a senior shoot, so I’m meeting Charity at a little bridge in the tiny “downtown” part of the nearest semi-populated area.
Half an hour later, I hop out of my car.
“Hi! Are you Charity? And you’d be Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, I’m guessing? I’m Annalee! I’m so excited for this morning, it’s a big day for you!” Charity’s eye makeup looks like she kind of rolled out of bed and the shadow stick on her nightstand made a smudge on her eyelid as she fell. I can work with that. I think.
Icebreakers are incredibly important in my job, so as we walk over to the bridge, I make small talk. “I’ve got the only job where you can legally shoot people!” I laugh. Her dad looks at me blankly. “Like. With a camera,” I clarify. I have a knack for slightly awkward moments. Photographers also tend to be good at covering them up, so it works out.
“So how did you get into photography?” Mrs. Thompson asks. She sounds a little like Minnie Mouse, like someone edited her voice with the contrast all the way down and the highlights all the way up, I think.
“Ahhh, well, that’s, um, quite the story!” I begin. How do I tell her that I took one high school photography class, then studied some blogs and photographers, and am now a professional? “Actually it’s really not quite the story, I’m…basically self-taught.” That works.
We’re on the bridge now, and it’s time to begin. I check my watch. 8:05. Hey, that’s close. I pose Charity with her hand lightly under her chin, elbow on the railing, ankles crossed, head at a perfect three-quarters tilt…
“Hm, sorry, the light’s not quite right. Let’s turn the other way.”
Nope. Darn sun.
“Okay, let’s move to the other railing?” Oh, look at those rays hitting riiiiiight on that gorgeous accident of an eyeshadow job. I need to hire a makeup artist. But this is as good as it’s going to get, so I snap a few images to make her think the pose totally worked.
A few more successful poses later, I have some pictures I’m happy with. Smiling widely, Charity asks if I wouldn’t mind getting some photos with her between her parents.
“Sure!” Okay, adults. I can do this. “Mrs. Thompson, if you’d stand on her right with your arms around each others’ waists…” Oh, and a middle–aged man. Not my specialty. “And Mr. Thompson, if you’d stand on her left and….just…stand however you feel comfortable!” A.k.a., I literally do not know how to pose you right now.
The shoot over, I begin postprocessing at home. But first, an email check.
“Newborn Shoot Question!!!” reads the subject of the top message. The body reads, “Hello Annalee, it’s Karen LeBlanc, you seconded my wedding last year.” Ah yes. Karen’s wedding, the one where I forgot a memory card and had to run to WalMart last minute. I remember it well. The message goes on, “I’m due with our first in about four months, and I was wondering if you would be able to do a newborn session! Do you have any experience with those? Thank you!”
My motto is “Fake it till you make it.” I prepare to do just that.
“Yes! I remember you! I’m so excited to hear about the baby–congratulations! I love photographing very young children”–very young like two years old, but hey, there’s a first for everything right?–“and I’d love to work with yours too! When is your due date? We can plan on scheduling for about 5-7 days after birth.” I’d better start YouTubing how to wrap newborns for a shoot.
My job is a little crazy, and a day in my life is full of learning from mistakes and building rather forced relationships and meeting needs I’ve never worked with before–but I love it. Being a photographer allows me to experience humanity in all its stages, and people are really quite amazing.