THE SWINNEY FAMILY

It seems a bit funny to me how things are coming full circle around here as I ready myself and this business to move to Houston. Three and a half years ago, I got this little itch that I kind of, maybe, sort of, might possibly want to start a photography business. And then, a sign: a neighbor of mine had a baby and I saw the potential to bombard this family (that I had never met) with a free photography session for me to test out my skills. I left a note in their mailbox to please let me come over and take pictures. Jess swears the session went well and that she loves those pictures. But now that we are very good friends so many years later, I’ve never, ever seen them hung in her house. She has lots of my pictures hung in her house. But not those ones. Just saying…

A few things about this photo session back in the early months of 2012:  Newborns are like, the hardest photography there is. Hands down. If someone offers to photograph your newborn for free with absolutely no experience, well, you’re going to get terrible pictures. You get what you pay for in photography and free is generally pretty bad. Newborns are really tiny, wiggly, cranky and they certainly don’t listen to anything you have to say unless you have a boob that is capable of producing milk — and even then, it’s iffy. It takes the longest amount of time. There are breaks for breastfeeding and explosive poops. Experience is key with newborn sessions. You need to know things about how to manipulate the session to trick that tiny human into becoming so milk drunk and warm that it slips into a state of what I refer to as a milk coma. You need to know how to make Mama feel comfortable and beautiful a few days after passing a watermelon through her nether parts while carrying around a large, still-there, contracting and squishy uterus in her belly.  Not to mention that it’s also helpful to be charming and patient with the Daddy who is not only tired and attention-starved but also really annoyed that you’re there sticking a camera in his face. Anyway, the whole point is, newborns are hard work and require some skillz. Yeah. Skillz. With a “z”.  Legit skillz? Experience? I had absolutely none. I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have started with a human adult.

I have no idea why Jess likes me to this day. Jess not only likes me, but she also hires me. She trusts me with her family memories. Which I appreciate, because I definitely don’t feel like I earned that trust with that first botch of a session.

But that’s what I love about this session happening at the end of my time here in Virginia. Not only is it full circle with a particular client who was integral at the beginning and is now a part of the end, but it also shows how I have grown as a photographer. I’ve worked and I’ve studied and I’ve practiced and I’ve really royally screwed things up quite a few times — but now, I’ve got it. I’ve got the experience and, if I can be so boldly confident, the skillz.

Thank you so much, Jess, Olivia and I guess Dan, too (even though at this most recent session, I overheard some grumbling about it taking too long and you really wanting to go back home to start dinner — I do appreciate the attempts at feigned interest in the process), for giving me a beginning for this business. And for living down the street from me and becoming my friends. Thank you for raising Livy to be so hilariously headstrong and amazing. Thank you for solo cups filled with red wine way beyond a normal pour and for letting me sit on your driveway to keep an eye my kid even when you aren’t home. But most of all, thank you for the undeserved but unwavering support. You guys will always be my first clients and my most favorite neighbors.

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