I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my career... it's really the only thing I've done for nearly all of my entire adult life: taking pictures that make people look pretty. I went to college, worked at a collection agency with Jason and Panda and Miss Sherri - but I hated it. I hated waking up every day at the same time - I resented having to do things like shower everyday (I didn't) and put on my make-up (hardly ever) and pretend that I give a sh*t about what some stupid tool of a manager thinks of my ability to reclaim money from debtors (I was far less into 'pretending' than I should have been.....)
After that stint, it became clear that when my second grade report card from Mrs. Snapp said, "Elle doesn't play well with others" well... it *might* have been a little bit of foreshadowing of my life in the business world.
In the vain of honestly,I just don't care. I'm like Haley Joel Osment... only I see stupid people. Everywhere.
I'm not good at playing games and saying all the right things and being all PC... if you're a dumba$$ and you're doing it wrong: I'll just tell you. I *can* do it with tact - however, I'm not going to walk around on eggshells.
In fact, as all of my clients know - I have a very strict "No Soup" policy. What's that you ask......? It's simple, if you're a dumba$$ of a client who pisses me off ... then you get 'no souped'. Plain and simple.
On Seinfeld, the Soup Natzi has it right. *IF* you are standing in line for *his* soup then you play by his rules - you wait patiently and quietly... you have *respect* for him and for the soup. You don't get all annoying and ask for a million special things (while not paying a penny more!)... you just get the soup and are *grateful* for the soup because it is a good soup - the BEST soup in all New York and *THAT* should be enough.
If it's not enough, then it's No Soup For You.
While I'm not the best in New York... or Portland... or perhaps even on my own street for all I know... lolol - *if* you have hired me then you have done so because you trust my ability and desire to have *me* capture you and your family. As such... you must be *patient*, you must be respectful and not tick me off.
I actually have a wee file of people who have been 'no souped' - and it makes me giggle a little when mutual friends of a past client who has been no-souped will *STILL* come to me even though their friend can't anymore. In spite of myself and my No Soup policy - my clients are very loyal... a blessing I do not deserve and am entirely grateful for.
Good G*d.... how totally, utterly obnoxious is that sh*t? Wow..... obnoxious but true. Plus.... I can tell in about three seconds whether or not you like me, appreciate my humor and if we're going to have a smooth working relationship... I'm probably about 1/4 of the price of most comparable photogs in my area and I'm not willing to put up with your snotty a$$ just so you can save a few bucks if I have doubts that you'll actually like me and appreciate my work....
It's not worth it for me *or* the client.
This time of year is full of the usual suspects.... I have a few families whom I have photographed for nearly ten years. TEN YEARS! I love watching their kids grow and while nearly every MWAC on the planet has posted it on their "about" page... it's very true to say that I truly do love being apart of these people's lives.
One of my oldest clients, she had a child who is celebrating five years of being cancer free. People always say clever things like f*ck Cancer and Cancer Sucks.... but I can assure you that Cancer sucks *the most* when it's found in a 6 month old baby.
I was there the first day of his life, in fact - I'm proud to say that I was the first person to change his diaper outside of nurse or a doctor. He was baby number three and our portrait session was set up months in advance and I came in when he was less than 24 hours old.
During the session he took a huge mustard yellowish dump tinged with that greenish black stuff and I plopped him right down and changed that sh*tty diaper. That's just how I roll... bwahahahaha.
His Mom and I have a special bond. I photographer their wedding and all their kids and I do their family photo every single year.... and through them I have done a fair bit of charity work as well with different families facing harrowing circumstances - which is humbling and amazing.
During this time of my life this Mom reached out to me in and email and said, "Just remember, your darkest hour will only last 60 minutes. You can do anything for 60 minutes - we love you."
On the one hand, she's totally right - you *can* truly do anything for 60 minutes. But... when I read that, I thought about all the times when we weren't sure that our boy, swollen faced, distended belly and yellowing skin from chemo-meds - would make it.... and how *her* sixty minutes would have had to be SO MUCH more f*cked than my own darkest 60 minutes.
When you're blessed to have these people in your life you just can't help but realize that worse things are happening to better people... and if you're grateful for the pain *you* have, you can move forward.
This weekend I see this family - actually I see several of my regulars - two of whom I shot their weddings years and years ago.... I love that. If I have to give up photography for a better paying job - it's the clients I will miss the most because what they have collectively brought to my life is so much more than a payday.
So much more.....
On that note, I'm going to drop a bit of a PSA on you: GO GET YOUR FAMILY PHOTOS DONE.
The day after I found out about Yoga Girl and her pink box of marital deception - my first thoughts were about the kids and what this would mean... and after I crawled out of the fetal position on the floor of my kitchen when I realized this meant packing them up every other Friday to go to "their Dad's place"... my next thought was that we had not done a family photo in two years. TWO YEARS!!!!
TWO EFFING YEARS..... and I'm a photographer? What?
I was crushed. Truly. Behind my back Yoga Girl and El Capitan had run out the time on my family clock and I never had a chance to do all those things I was going to "get to" one of these days... like taking our family photo.
Damn. I regret that so much now.
So go out there and find someone to do your family photos. If you can't afford a "real" photographer, then find a friend with a good camera - pick a park with lots of shade and you can take turns taking photos of each others family. It's better than nothing... and, you might find yourself face first on a cool tile floor dry heaving into a trash can because the time to get things done was sucked out of your life and now.... there is no more time, there will be no more family photos as a family of four.
This year, my friend Dirty Diana will be doing a family session for me and the Kids... I'm not sure what we're going to wear yet... but I'm super excited. While we aren't a family of four... I can assure you that I've learned (and am still learning) from my past mistakes and I'm not going to let these opportunities pass me by.
It's not the same... and it'll be bittersweet when my friends start sending me their holiday cards featuring the smiling faces of their loyal hubbies... lolol - but - how can my kids be proud of themselves if I don't first show them HOW to be? How will my kids know to value this new family dynamic if I don't do it first?
If I've learned nothing else... Mr. XXXXX has taught me the importance of healing THE BOY and THE GIRL as people - loving them, respecting them, honoring them, finding joy in THEM - so that they can grow up and find those things in themselves - instead of look for it in other people.... and then never feeling fulfilled, they will continue to look for it outside their own future marriages.
Pride and joy and love and confidence .... it comes in all shapes in sizes of people.... and in spite of what some politicians think - it also comes in all shapes, sizes and genders of family - including this little family of three.
I'm not the prettiest girl on the block - I won't be rocking skinny jeans and tall boots and fitted like a lot of the 'MILFS' who show up with their adorable families (oh... and Portland is *not* short on 'MILFS'... trust me - there are hot moms *all* over this town and tons of them are friends with me... lol) - but that's the thing- the Boy and The Girl, they only see their Mom. Hopefully they will see how much I love them and adore them and desperately want them to feel complete and whole in spite of being blown to emotional pieces.
Hopefully one day they will look back on these pictures and remember it as the start of something and not a symbol of what is no more. Either way... I'm looking forward to getting my Dirty Diana on and remember this part of our journey for all that it is.... even if I *really do* have a face for radio. :)