6. When I started this business, I thought I needed a bio to explain what made me qualified to live such a creative, audacious life, and to charge money for it. I looked at other photographers websites, and followed suit. Insecure on the inside but trying to be secure on the outside, I wrote my bio. It began: “Stacey Vaeth has been making photographs since the age of 15.” It was awful. It was insincere, and it was boring. And MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS?? Come on.
In the early hours of sleep that night, I had a thought obvious as day, but that which I was unable to see until then: Write what you know. Write what you truly feel, not what you think people want to hear. Make space for your uniqueness. I jotted into my journal:
“Throughout my childhood, the camera was a family member. My father was a photographer and worked at Kodak with the rest of town. Whereas photography was a novelty for most, it was a pastime for us. The picture perfect moments were so frequent, that my dad is forever known for his three famous words: Just one more. Just one more shot, one more moment, one more smile.
Being photographed not only made me feel important, it made me feel as if time slowed, as if that moment was somehow pivotal. No matter how ordinary, those moments that were photographed now stand out as markers in my life.”
From there I wrote my tagline, which I stand by today even more than I did in 2008: Stacey Vaeth Photography: Creating Family Heirlooms Through Fine Art Photography.
This is an image of Jemina and her brother. She bought this session as a gift for her mother, who loves and cherishes her family in a way that brings tears to the eyes. I loved being able to do the shoot in Spanish to communicate with her mom. I loved her willingness to express her love for her children and husband so openly. I smiled softly watching Jemina adjust her mom’s cardigan, telling her how beautiful she looked. The ceremony of the session was as important as the images themselves, it felt then.
Jemina wrote me last month to access the photos again, as her brother was killed in a tragic accident.
These photos now gut me. This is the tenth time I’ve had a client come back for images because of a huge loss. And it never gets easier.
What we do as both photographers and people investing in photography is important. We are collectively creating part of our legacy. If I can continue to create family heirlooms with my clients, this is a life well lived.