A few years ago I took a step back from doing photography as a side hustle. Before that time, I spent many weekends doing senior portraits, family portraits, and headshots. I was shooting mostly outdoors at beaches and parks with off-camera lighting and some light modifiers. While I still had a lot to learn, I had become fairly skilled at capturing images that my clients were happy with.
However, everything changed when the time required to confront several personal challenges that I was dealing with forced me to stop actively pursuing new clients. Sure, from time to time I would still do an occasional shoot for someone that would ask. But for the most part, these shoots were few and far between. Eventually, I completely stopped doing photography as a side hustle. My photography website languished and my camera and lighting equipment started to gather dust.
Mark Chisholm Photography 2.0
After taking some time to re-examine my priorities and reflecting on the things that I want to learn and spend my time on, I realized that portrait photography was something that I enjoyed doing. It challenged me and scared me at the same time. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone. Before stepping back from it, I had developed a level of skill that allowed me to deliver images that people were willing to pay for. I enjoyed the process of learning more and more about off-camera lighting and trying to reproduce images in the styles of photographers whose work I most admired. The bottom line is that it’s something I’m meant to be doing.
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
This time around, I plan to focus primarily on headshots. I don’t have my own studio, so I’ll be working on location, both indoors and outdoors. While I don’t have the latest and greatest camera, lenses or lighting equipment, I certainly have enough gear to get rolling again. I have a Nikon D7200, Nikon 70-200mm lens, 3 Nikon SB-800 Speedlights with a couple of PocketWizard radio controllers, a softbox, an umbrella, a reflector and some light stands. I purchased the camera refurbished last year and the rest of the equipment is over five years old. I’m not going to fall into the “gear acquisition syndrome” trap by thinking I need to spend loads of money on new stuff. I can shoot great portraits with what I already own.
What I want to get better at
I’ve learned most of what I know about the technical aspects of photography and light from Zack Arias’ great One Light tutorial videos and his CreativeLive course Foundations of a Working Photographer. I’ve also been heavily influenced by Dylan Patrick’s The Cinematic Headshot tutorial as well as Peter Hurley’s The Art Behind the Headshot.
After going back and reviewing each of these tutorials again, I’m realizing that I still have a pretty good handle on the technical aspects of shooting portraits and headshots. However, I would like to get much better at posing and capturing great expressions out my subjects. This requires me to have a certain level of comfort interacting with the person that’s in front of my camera. As an introvert, this was often a struggle for me when I was shooting portraits previously. I now realize that if I can make the technical aspects of exposure and off-camera lighting become second nature, I won’t have to spend so much time thinking about these things. This will allow me to be more comfortable interacting and directing my subject.
I’ve cleared the cobwebs off my photography website and blown the dust off my gear. I’m both excited and anxious about getting new people in front of my camera. I’m looking forward to rebooting this photography side hustle in a way that allows me to capture great portraits of people while creating and refining my own style… and earning some extra income along the way.