Monday, October 27, 2014

The email all photographers secretly hope to get

One of my all-time favorite candids of my own daughter from 2007. This was real. life. And I want to remember it. 

Man, it's fall again and it's been another year since I've posted.  Must be something about the days getting darker that sparks my introspection...anyway. I'd like to share an email that I recently received that makes my heart spill all over the place. It's the email all photographers secretly hope to get:

"Well, you've done it again, Mrs. Watts!!!!!  Holy Cow!!  Unbelievable!!  I can't stop looking at these!  How can you contain yourself during a shoot?!  Are you just constantly thinking as you fire away, "Wait'll they see this one!!", and "HA! THIS one will REALLY knock their socks off!", giggling away on the inside.  There were so many strong images where you captured so much emotion and an entire story within a single frame. 

Our fiery 3 year old daughter who is so animated and expressive, and does so much in every day life that we want so badly to capture, yet runs and hides at the mere mention of a camera, completely opened up to you and you captured her and her personality perfectly.  You can definitely tell she's running the show in our home. The images you got of her in front of her wall were what I had envisioned in my mind as I carefully placed each flower petal on her wall, but I could never have captured it the way you did, even if she had actually stood there to let me!  How you incorporated the guitar was brilliant, too!  There were shots of our son where you really captured his distinguished side that we see on a daily basis, yet can't seem to record on film that were really great.  You managed to somehow conceal my own insecurity and uneasiness in front of the camera in most of the images as well as hiding the sleep deprivation my wife and I have both been experiencing.  The shots where our exhaustion is a little more apparent, you illustrated it beautifully in a way that I found truly charming.   We really liked the surprises that seem to be par for the course when looking at your photos after a Julie Watts shoot. Our family is very special to us and we are careful of who we let into our lives and home, but are really glad we had you do the shoot, and are really thankful you were willing to do it.  We really liked the tips on lighting you gave us while here. I think the thing I'm most appreciative of you having taught me is the way you just let the shoot happen and catch it as it happens.  I think I see our children do something, and then try to recreate it, "Here, stand like this, now put your hands like this, now look over here, now hold still" and I can never capture what happened before or what I am trying to get.  Maybe that's why our daughter tends to run and hide.  You seemed to just capture it as it happens, and so much tends to happen.  Also, our daughter and son didn't necessarily have to be looking into the lens for a great photograph to happen.  I think knowing that will be so helpful to us.  There is a huge difference in the snapshots that I take and what you do.  You are truly an artist. 

Our family is the most important thing to me and I try so hard to get great photographs.  I take hundreds and may get a few out of a hundred that are pretty nice.  I miss a lot.  You take a hundred, all of which are really good, and many of which are breathtaking.  I'll never forget how at Justin's wedding in the middle of a crowded & busy room of people, you held your camera up high at arms length, and aimed down at a subject a distance away from you with people between you, not being able to see through your viewfinder, and then seeing the same image only half way through the reception already displayed on a screen with many others just taken and thinking , "HOW" and "WOW!"  I couldn't have taken that photograph on a tripod let alone without the luxury of the viewfinder or the people standing between you and your subject. I know you are busy with your new job, but if you ever have a photography class or seminar, be it on composition, lighting, post processing, or whatever, could you please put my name at the top of the waiting list?  Or at least beneath all the people who have probably already asked you to do one and are already on the list.

  Or even if you ever just have a couple extra hours on hand to waste and need a little extra Christmas or spending money to do a class or some coaching/ brutally honest critiquing on my images and things that I could try to improve them, I would greatly appreciate any chance to learn from you.  You wouldn't have to make the drive down to our county.  I could make the trip up there to wherever.  I took a 5-Saturday course at a community college several years ago and have an understanding of shutter speed, aperture, how they correlate & effect a photograph and have a couple decent cameras/ lenses, so you wouldn't be starting all over from scratch.  I feel like I've hit a wall with my photography and I'm losing opportunities at capturing memories, and not doing them justice,  if not missing them all together.  Your recent session has helped me find new lighting & taught me not to force a photograph & instead to just let one happen.  You can't open my eyes up to the way you see things, and how quickly you respond with your camera, but I wonder if I'm just making some really obvious mistakes that are just not obvious to me.  You have a gift of seeing the world the way you do, and you give people a gift every time you give them images like these. My mom doesn't have a lot of baby photos of me or my sisters or growing up and I wonder on that from time to time.  I want to give my children, my wife ( and I ) images that can forever show them the love I feel for them the way you pass on to so many people with your obvious love for photography.

 I couldn't imagine how that must feel to know that you've taken so many photographs for so many people where they may likely be their favorite photograph ever taken of themselves or their family.  One where you catch an emotion or look, one that will forever hang on their favorite wall of their home and gets sent to friends and relatives all over the world to be displayed and showed off to other friends and relatives you've never met in countries you've never been, where every time they walk by your work they evoke a smile.  How, many times, that photograph may be the first or only photograph a relative who lives or is stationed far away ever sees of that person.  And it's what you saw through your viewfinder at that moment and captured and created.  The closest I ever get to that is on our vacations, in front of famous monuments and landmarks when in between our own family photos I offer to help the couple capturing a selfie of themselves, or the family who has several shots of themselves in front of the picturesque sight, but one in their group is always the holding the camera.  Or explaining the importance of holding the shutter release button down halfway before pressing completely or the difference a minor aperture or exposure  change could make to the elderly person with their new digital camera.  That's the closest I come to feeling the satisfaction you must feel, but even that is nice.  I don't have the time or the talent to do for people what you do for them and on the scale that you do it.  My work will never be all over the world or held with the regard that yours is, but if I could give my family that sort of feeling through the photographs I take of them, it would mean the world to me.  If you ever have a class or seminar of any kind, I would greatly appreciate the chance to attend.  Please let me know if anything like this ever comes up.  Thank you, and thanks again for all the great photographs."

I mean seriously....while I've gotten my share of "thank you" emails over the years, this is one that just made me literally speechless.

 I've actually kept it a secret for a few months. I haven't told anybody about it. I've just...marinated on how observant and passionate about his family that this parent is...and yes, I am strongly considering offering some gift certificates for private lessons this holiday season...I gotta figure out the details and restrictions, and how many I have time to offer, but I have loved every opportunity I've taken to critique student work for MeRa Koh's online classes and assist at her workshops. A handful of you know I held a workshop of my own in 2010. One-on-one is my favorite though. Message me if you, too, are possibly interested in a private lesson. Thanks so much for allowing me to gush a little. I guess I needed it. :-)

1 comment:

Jaime Vogt said...

Read this and totally agree. I am still looking at and loving the photos Julie took for my family. Our toddler, was being a little crazy, but amazingly he looks totally charming in these photos. And the photos turned out perfectly. I literally could not keep them to myself for more than 20 seconds before sharing them all over facebook.
Thanks Julie!