Do you ever ask yourself why you create photographs? Are you creating memories or are you just snapping some photos?
Every day I have to ask myself what type of content I am making. Am I making something worth showing the world or am I just making something to post on social media? Being a professional photographer is something that can be a struggle between creating content and marketing your business. I have started to learn over the last few years that if you are creating quality content, then the marketing becomes much easier because the content sells itself.
Last week we suffered an absolutely terrible tragedy. Since you can see, I live in Chattanooga, TN and unless you haven’t seen social media, the news, or print media, you know that we lost five servicemen in a senseless shooting. This happened about 15 minutes from my home in Chattanooga.
Just like 9-11 for me the first emotion was absolute anger and disbelief that this could happen in Chattanooga. I was glued to the TV for days while watching all the information unfold. While doing this I was not creating any content because I was distracted by these events. As a professional, you can’t really take a day off from marketing yourself and creating that content.
For Days I watched and saw the memorial at one of the sites have visitors leaving messages, flags, balloons, etc. in an effort to heal and comfort the community. During that same time frame I kept seeing photos from people on the news and social media, a lot of which were taken by phones. This takes me back to the original question though, why are you creating and what are you creating?
I for one have never really had the emotional capacity to photograph news events that create anger within me. This is different than any other type of news and that is why I avoided the site for the first few days. I had to gather composure and determine if going over there with my camera was appropriate for me. This for me was not about creating content in the matter of getting people interested in my business. This was about creating content to share with myself and others that rely on that content to help understand and start to heal.
On Monday I made my way over there with my Girlfriend/Assistant as I knew that she want to pay her respects and I was finally ready to go over there. As we pulled up to the parking lot there were many more people than I expected. There were still news trucks there from local news to CNN and Fox News. I decided that since we were both there and had all our gear, I decided that we would both take a camera up to the memorial. Being that her camera is a Nikon D7100 and in a tight space, I put the Nikon 24-70 2.8 and I set up my Nikon D3 with the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRI, which is usually my go to for almost everything. I prefer the 70-200 as I can get very close to subjects without intruding on anyone.
This memorial that was set up by the community was just beautiful. After being there for about 20 minutes and seeing veterans walking through to pay their respects side by side with the community, I stood back and just watched. As someone who lost a friend years ago during the war in the Middle East, and a father who served in Vietnam, my emotions started to show though as I held my camera, looked at the memorial and began to cry. Once I gathered myself together again, I click off some more shots and then we decided to go back to the office.
Back at the office, I immediately plugged in our cards to start editing. As I looked through the photos that both of us took, I thought to myself that we had captured some very strong content. I wanted to share some of these with you.
While you look through these, I hope that it creates sometype of reaction or drum up some type of emotion. If it does, than as a photographer I have done exactly what I seek out to do and that is to create content that makes you think and feel emotion.