“You can learn the technique, but passion is cultivated through dedication, love, pride and respect in your work.” ~Pierro Bambi
Ever wonder what really goes on behind the scenes in photography? The photography industry can be glamorized as beautiful clients, never-ending streams of coffee, and continuous photo opportunities around the world and into the depths of unexplored areas of one’s hometown. The reality of photography though lies in the shadows of these preconceived notions. While those are all very real aspects of photography, there is also a lot of sweat carrying around, setting up and tearing down the gear. There is continuous marketing and learning outside of the photo shoots. In all the glamor a professional photographer is continuously working behind the scenes.
It begins with learning photography and all the different types of photography on one’s own time. Wedding photography is different than commercial photography or documentary photography. First learning to fully control the camera and understanding what each setting needs to be for the type of shoot can take time and practice. Then adding in elements of light and knowing how to manipulate the light to fall softly across the clients face without casting harsh and unflattering shadows. It is understanding that each location has a different light that could change from gorgeous light to severely unflattering within a couple of inches.
Then comes the marketing aspect. It is more than putting up a beautiful website and clients just happen upon it. Google has mostly replaced the Yellow Pages and it has evolved tremendously since its creation. A photographer needs the skillset to optimize their photography website for Google to be able to rank it higher to make it easier for potential clients to find without going into the scary depths that is page 10 on Google.
The best marketing tends to be word of mouth and referrals. It’s constant talking to strangers everywhere you go. It’s more than just selling them on a photography portfolio but genuinely caring about them as a person. Many times, especially in weddings, a photographer may take on a task that doesn’t technically fall within their job description but they do it anyways to keep the day running smoothly for the bride, groom and their family. Marketing photography isn’t just selling a skillset, it’s creating relationships and expanding the community. Most clients tend to become friends or good acquaintances after a while.
A photographer doesn’t typically work the traditional 9 to 5, a lot of the work is done in between shoots. Unpacking gear, processing + developing many photos, keeping up with a website, maintaining communication with clients and preparing for the next shoot are a typical day’s work. There isn’t a whole lot of room for sick days or personal vacations unless it happens to fall in between shoots and even then there is always more work left to be done. A photographer’s work is their lifestyle. It doesn’t turn on when they clock in or turn off when they get home. It is every day observing the beauty of the world and the people’s lives filling it.
Louisville and Lexington photographer, Adam Brennan photographs Catesby W. Clay and his grandson, Catesby Clay at Runnymede Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Runnymede farm is the oldest thoroughbred farm in Kentucky.
I was sitting in Cherokee Park here in Louisville with my mother-in-law when out of nowhere she declared her love of trees. She revealed to me that they are representative of the kinships of our being. The roots are our family whom our entity emerges from. The blood ties last our entire lives. From our trunk extends branches of companionship and fellowship. Some of these extensions grow stronger throughout the generations, while others break off along the passage of time. From the branches spring leaves that represent the acquaintances that endure with us through particular seasons of our lives before falling away to their own endeavors. No matter if we just brushed passed them with a simple nod and “hello” or if we joined with them enduring the ebbs and flow of life together, all these people influence our character and identity. They either reinforce who we are or encourage us to change in some form or another.
Within the soul of photography is human interaction with each other, with nature and with their environment. Our capacity for relationships is never-ending. As seasons merge and fluctuate, one of the most worthwhile sentiments is looking back at photographs of who you were and the people you shared life with. Even in commercial photography, advertisements typically use models to emulate relationships using their products as props. Your photographer should be able to capture the split second micro-expressions that reveal who you are, the people surrounding you, and the relationships you have with them. Documenting people is the foundation of this professional Louisville and Lexington photographer.
Take some time to step outside and embrace the brevity of this life with others.
Written by Lindsey Overstreet
“The time will pass anyway. You can either spend it creating the life you want or spend it living the life you don’t want. The choice is yours.” ~Unknown
When I first saw Adam Brennan’s photography I was captivated by the humanity he documented. It was more than just pretty people standing in the pretty light. The soul of the subject dominated the photograph. Their character was revealed. What struck me the most, was that his photography is consistent. His shots weren’t lucky or because he just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. He sought out natural expressions. He refined his skill to know precisely where the light should fall across. His camera became an extension of his arm. Most importantly though, is he became friends with the individuals he photographed.
Meanwhile, I was still squinting through my viewfinder, stumbling over my words trying to make small talk and embarrassed to reveal my shots until after I had edited them. I wanted desperately to become better, so I messaged Adam on Facebook hoping to meet and gain some pointers, but as it does, life kept schedules occupied and the time passed. Then in November, Adam reached out to the world of Facebook, posting an available assistant’s position. Immediately I shot him a message of interest. He replied by telling me it wasn’t a glamorous position and that it would be carrying bags of heavy gear and to keep things organized. Undeterred I told him I was still interested and he agreed to meet with me. Yet our schedules still did not line up and I was about to leave town for Thanksgiving week. He had other interviews and I saw the opportunity waving goodbye and welcoming someone else. I called back asking him if we could instead meet at 6 a.m before I caught my flight. He had a meeting that morning but assured me we would meet when I got back. True to his word we met up and he decided I wasn’t as awkward as I sounded on the phone. He connected me with Emory, his previous assistant, for a second interview and to learn more about the position. He also offered me the opportunity to observe a commercial photo shoot at Willis Hair Salon in Louisville later that week. It may not have been mandatory but I made sure to make myself available.
The morning of the photo shoot I woke up full of nerves, busted out the door and hopped in my truck. The engine wouldn’t turn over. I tried several more times hoping for a miracle. Nothing. I quickly messaged Adam that my truck wouldn’t start but I would be there as soon as possible. It’s the oldest excuse in the book and I was sure he thought I was going to flake out. Uber came to my rescue and I made it with a minute to spare.
It was a full day of work, getting to know the beautiful strangers that filled the salon and learning about gear and lights. At the end of the day, Adam offered me the position. I went home full of excitement until I noticed my tunnel vision caused me to run before I’d walked. When I slowed down enough to look around I realized I ran straight out of my comfort zone. All the doubts began to creep in.
‘I must have oversold myself’.
‘I’m not qualified’.
‘I’m going to make a mistake and get fired’.
After several more photo shoots, I realized that the fear didn’t indicate that I was going to fail at photography or being an assistant, but that I am exactly where I need to be- growing. It meant I had seized this opportunity despite the obstacles. I didn’t take a shortcut and I didn’t settle for less. Becoming Adam’s assistant and apprentice in his photography business shifted how I’ve decided to approach life. Instead of hesitating, I embrace the adventure and maximize this experience.