This guest blog is from my colleague, Cathy Deschamps, an artisan photographer in Montana.  I have to admit that I spent WAY too much time (on a workday) poking around her fascinating blog, and of course, the photos are a hoot in themselves…her thoughts about her work are insightful and enlightening. And her dogs are adorable!

      I’ve spent almost half my life working with doctors. Most of them specialize in one field of medicine. Why? Because that is how you perfect your craft. They become so highly skilled in their field because they focus on that specific parameter. I subscribe to that philosophy with a camera. When I started my photography I dabbled in a little of everything. Then I realized I had to narrow down my field in order to become better at it. I chose portraits, pets and weddings.  Every wedding is different and often times I learn something from it. As photographers go, you can become stagnant and shoot the same poses over and over, or you can choose to learn new things and grow. Trends change, so should your craft. Being willing to learn new aspects of photography will give your clients the feeling that you really care about what you are doing. I tell my colleagues to always keep the original photo and supply it to the client when you are doing enhancements. That way when the trends change, they still have a timeless original file. When I interview a couple for a wedding, I try to understand what their vision for the day is. It’s their wedding, not mine. Being flexible is also a benefit to your clients. I like clients who want something beyond the cliche so I can be creative for them. When I shoot portraits my goal is to make a connection with the subject/subjects. If we can find something fun to talk about, they become more relaxed and it shows in the pictures. Some of the best shots involve laughter. At each wedding I look for little moments. It could be something as simple as a smiling relative, the proud father, a whisper between the couple or tears of joy streaming down someone’s cheek. I have a photo of my Aunt wiping away a tear at my own wedding. That photograph is even more special to me since she passed away last Christmas eve. I look at the scene, the background and compose the shot. I don’t just press the shutter and hope I get something good. There are photographers who don’t have faith in their ability or technical skills. They are the spray and pray group. Spray and pray is when a photographer shoots 1000-3000 photos at a wedding hoping to get 200-300 good photos.  I arrive before the wedding with a plan and back up equipment. The average number of photos after editing a wedding will be 200-400. To give you a better perspective 400 photos in 7 hours equals 57 photos per hour, nearly 1 per minute. I hope now it will make sense why 200-400 is the norm.

I still love to take photos of old barns and antiques, it just doesn’t pay very well. It’s mostly for my enjoyment and something different for my website viewers to look at.  Find your niche and elevate it as high as you can!