Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Makes You, You?

As a photographer, it is my job to figure that out.

My goal for each of my portrait sessions is to get to know my clients and find out who they are inside.  I want to know what makes them tick, and then figure out how to show that uniqueness in their photographs.

For example, here are a few photos of my past clients where you get a great glimpse at what makes each of them the unique and wonderful people that they are!

Tammy has a sassy side and is always up for anything (for this photo, she jumped into the middle of the street, struck a pose, and told me to take her picture!  So, I turned around and clicked.  I love when clients do stuff like that!)...

Vicki needs her yoga to remain balanced in her life...

And Kelli is happiest with her nose buried in a book...

That's all well and good, but what's my point?  The point is this... I've been so busy getting to know my clients that until recently I never realized that I had been leaving out a very crucial piece of the puzzle.

What makes me, me?

Like the fact that my favorite time of the year is fall for lots of reasons: I grew up in the Midwest, and love the fall colors that you can find there.  My birthday is in September, and I'm one of those people who looks forward to celebrating every year.  Also, I always loved the start of a new school year when I was a kid, and even though I'm not in school anymore the feeling of the fall being a time to embark on new things has stuck with me....

(This photo was taken by my husband in our neighborhood in Indiana last October. We decided to stop for a few quick photos as we were on our way to a wedding.)

As I've been working with the designer on the brand for my business, he has been asking me a lot of questions about who I am, and about what makes me unique.  Quite frankly, the questions haven't been the easiest to answer and he's really giving me a lot to think about.

You see, being a photographer is different than other occupations in many ways. We are our business, and there is very little separation between the two. So, when you market a photography business, you market the photographer. In some ways that is really fun because I pour my heart and soul into each session that I shoot, and I leave a little bit of myself in each photo that I take. But, sometimes that makes it difficult to separate myself from my work. When people don't like the style of my photography, it is hard to remember that doesn't automatically mean that they don't like me.

When I made the decision to keep the blog strictly business, my thought process was that by doing so I would be keeping things professional and not be boring everyone with incessant photos of my dogs or ramblings about my boring life (and anyway, isn't that what twitter is for?). Now I realize that I was also avoiding putting myself out there and allowing everyone to get to know me out of fear. We never really grow out of asking ourselves, "But what if they don't like me?" Or "What if I say something that upsets someone and they stop following me?" Or "What if I pour everything that I have and everything that I am into my blog, and my business, and I fail?"

I now know that by not sharing more about myself, I am doing a disservice to my clients and to myself.  How can I expect you to open and up and share who you are with me, when I'm not willing to do the same in return?  And in all honesty, wouldn't everyone be better off if we realize upfront that we aren't a good match?  If you hate dogs, and even hearing mention of them sets you on edge, I'm probably not the photographer for you because my dogs are the light of my life and it's impossible for me to refrain from talking about them all the time.

The truth is that everyone isn't going to like me, and I'm not going to like everyone I meet in life, either.  It's no big deal.  If that happens, then we just politely go our separate ways - no harm done.  For every person who won't like me, there are probably five who will, but how can you decide if I don't share with you who I am?

Well, from now on I'm going to do just that!

And the first thing to know is that I'm an explainer.  No, not a complainer.... an explainer, meaning that I don't really like surprises all that much and I don't like to surprise other people, either. So instead of dropping in and changing things all around with no warning, I will usually explain what I am going to do before hand.  In keeping with that idea, here are a few new things that will be popping up on the blog in the coming weeks and months:

1. I think it is important for me to never forget what it feels like to be in front of the camera, so each month I will be taking a self-portrait and posting in on the blog.

2. I will be sharing my Birthday Bucket List with you, and adding updates as I experience each of the items on my list.

3. I may or may not decide to add some sort of weekly or monthly feature, but I'm still tossing around ideas and open for suggestions!

4. I'm going to be sharing A LOT more photos from my personal life, especially of my hottie husband and my cutie patootie dogs, so prepare yourself!

As always, thank you for reading!  I love to hear from you, so feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, or suggestions in the comments at any time.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.


  1. Hi there found you on the blog and material on self portraits..will be following and looking forward to reading more. Insatiable learning curve..

  2. Welcome! I'm glad you found me, and I hope you'll stop back by soon. :)