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This adorable little girl is shy, camera shy and inherently wary of folks when she meets them.

As I chatted with her, I learned that she loves the little lake behind her house — that she loves going out on the lake in the family rowboat.

I asked her to show me the boat, and to show me how she paddles the oar…..

Some images take more effort than do others. Those can often be your favorite shots from a session.

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I was blessed with the opportunity this past week to present to a class of Indiana University students who are studying and are passionate about photography.

Among many questions and interesting discussions, the students were keenly interested to know how much money they can make as a professional photographer.

Fair enough. My own son is about to graduate from college, so I’m aware of the significance of income in a young adult’s mind in 2018.

There are so many ways to answer the money question. Geography is a primary consideration, of course. But, if not based on either coast, and, instead, working in the Heartland (excluding Chicago, of course), income is so largely determinative by the number of days in a year and your talent level, as simplistic as that sounds.

A small-market Heartland good photographer should be able to average at least roughly $500 per session, which (math was NOT my strong suit!), if he/she works 365 days per year, would be over $180,000 in annual income. There’s a line, however, that most photographers draw, in the desire for time off. The work, while wildly exhilarating, is also exceedingly taxing. There’s editing, meetings, business travel, emails, phone calls, seminars, classes, etc….. As well, of course, there are the expenses of a studio and the camera equipment, naturally, both of which vary tremendously, based on a multitude of factors.

The final analysis? I wouldn’t go into photography as a career to earn “a lot” of money, but, equally, I wouldn’t walk away from the dream to be a self-employed photographer because of the fear that the earning potential is limited. A good photographer (inclusive of being a good businessperson) can make well over the income of a teacher, professor or the equivalent, AND have ample time off. It’s a great life, albeit one that’s a constant series of choices — time-on versus time-off being high on the list among them.

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Listening to some all-time favorite albums, editing photos from this past week and prepping for an all-day wedding tomorrow in (half) Nashville and (half) Bloomington….

Whew.

My next day off is Thanksgiving Day, and on that day (as is true every day) I’ll be thankful for confidence, resiliency, perseverance and determination, among other gifts/choices. Starting and running a business is not for the faint-of-heart — even more true when you name the business after yourself — but I wouldn’t trade one hour of the past five years professionally.

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I shot an engagement session this week, and the young man showed up for our shoot in his army fatigues. I was momentarily surprised, then immediately fully delighted, with his choice in attire. I smiled ear-to-ear, said “Thank you for your service” and shook his hand. Both were wonderful young adults, ready to begin the next steps of their lives — she, as a school teacher; he, in the Army — but his love of honor, country and duty was distinctly striking to me.

We only had 90 minutes to complete the shoot (late-in-the-day start), but we ended up getting well over 100 amazing images (I love being reminded that sometimes working fast can also mean working more effectively).



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What an outstanding career, to be a professional photographer and to offer meaningful images for wonderful folks.

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October has set records for the most shoots and the most income in a single month since launching full time about five years ago. I’m so grateful for every new client, and particularly excited that seven of my October shoots are with people/families/companies I’ve shot in prior years….. I love that business and relationships grow and evolve as folks move forward in their lives and want additional professional photographs. It’s so rewarding to be the on-call photographer for so many South-Central Indiana residents.

For years I accepted only one assignment per day, believing that was key to putting my full emphasis on a single client. I’ve set that belief aside, learning instead that I’ve got just as much energy and resolve for a second-and-third shoot each day. Each new shoot brings out an entirely new vibe, and the personalities and creative waves propel every experience forward.

Disappointingly, however, is that I’ve had to decline a substantial amount of business over the past several months — even with shooting multiple assignments in a day, there’s simply not enough time to manage every opportunity I’ve been asked to do….. It’s agonizing to say “No” to an assignment, as it’s simply not my nature, but I routinely work 80-plus hours weekly and know that that’s my effective limit.

I’m the proverbial kid-in-the-candy-store as I’ve been looking at the images from all my recent shoots…. So many fun, gorgeous, poignant and personal shots, and I’m, as always, thrilled and humbled to be creating — on a small but meaningful level — good.

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Just back from shooting my 17th wedding of 2018, and thinking about how many amazing people I’ve met during the first nine-plus months this year, so far…. I love being a photographer, and I love doing good work for good people. Tonight’s wedding was poignant in many, many ways, and I’m thankful to be continually reminded of the truth that the good outweighs the something-less-than-good in this mixed-up, crazy ol’ world of ours….

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Some shoots take your breath away.

This one took mine.

Don is a Vietnam veteran and an all-around remarkable man. I loved my time with him, talking about the war, the lasting impact of it (personally and nationally), the aftermath of Agent Orange and the current 18-25 year-old-generation’s preparedness for armed conflict.

I’m humbled and awed by his resolve. And blessed that I get to be a professional photographer, which, as much as it is anything, is being a professional storyteller.

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So far this month I’ve shot a wedding with 200 guests, a wedding with 150 guests, a wedding with 100 guests, a wedding with 50 guests and a wedding with solely the bride-and-groom (a civil service ceremony at the Monroe County courthouse). What a range! The word “wedding” is only the gateway to understanding what the day will actually be…. Each one is so completely distinct.

I’m off in an hour to shoot another wedding (100 guests!). This one is, coincidentally, near our family farm, which I’ll go by to see the progress of our soybean crop.

Marriages, crops, the last-day-of-summer-first-day-of-autumn and anticipations…. What a beautiful cycle of life….

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Fully in the midst of wedding season in Bloomington, and it’s been a whirlwind of laughter, tears, hugs, memories (and checking batteries, buying additional hard drives, dropping cameras and uploading images)!

It’s intensely fulfilling to, ultimately, after all the work, put flash drives in lovely boxes (with Jeff Norris Photography wrapping), and send the final, physical, images to clients. There aren’t many things that touch my soul as deeply as helping good people and giving them beautiful images. To find a career where we help ourselves by helping others….

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