When I picked up my first DSLR after my daughter was born, I never imagined that almost 8 years later it would be ruling my life. Work and play, there is a camera nearby. Barely an hour goes by when I don’t think about something to do with photography – what photo do I want to take, oh quick that moment should be a photo, looking backing over old photos, glancing at photos on the walls of my home, looking at the work of other photographers. It’s only when I sit back and reflect on how much of an influence photography has on my life do I realise how much I truly love it, and sometimes truly hate it!

It’s not all roses being a photographer. I’m sure you can agree. Besides maybe taking up horse riding for kicks, it is hands down one of the most expensive hobbies you can have. I shudder to think of the grand total of all purchases over time. Best not go there hey!

And it’s hard to get it good at it. Oh boy is it hard. How many times have you heard the old “Ohhhh wow you must have a really great camera to get photos like that.” Ah yes I really DO have a great camera. My 135mm lens is totally amazing, true, but I’d like to see you expose the perfect photo using it without any camera shake. Humph.

Of course, then there’s the times when you really, really wish you WEREN’T a photographer. Like when you get asked to bring your camera along to every single family event ever. Because you know, you should be working while you’re at your brother’s wedding. And then there’s the guilt of it, because you actually really don’t mind taking photos of his big day. Of course you don’t. But you also really don’t want to be doing it either! What to do, what to do?

Do you sometimes feel like you are only looking at life through the lens of your camera? I wonder how many moments I’ve missed over the years worrying about getting the perfect shot instead of actually living in the present.

But this isn’t an article about why being a photographer sucks.

It’s actually a story about why I LOVE being a photographer.

Yesterday was my children’s school sports day. They are 5 and 7. It’s adorable. Egg and spoon races, relays where they completely forget the baton, long jump where there is actually no jumping at all and it’s just a race to the end of the sand pit (that was his ACTUAL strategy he told me – to guarantee a WIN – good thinking buddy!)

I took along my fancy camera to the big event yesterday and spent the day behind the lens. Sometimes trying to balance recording the race in one hand with my iPhone whilst snapping some shots with my 135mm lens in the other – all while peaking over the top of the camera to actually watch the race in the real world because you know – enjoying every moment / being present / it’s not all about the photos and all that.

Then last night I sat up and edited them. I was exhausted. All day #mumlife and then home to try and catch up on work and a house that looks like squatters have moved in. But I did a quick ACR exposure adjustment on them, slapped on a saturation filter and automate-batched them down to Facebook size (the only place they’ll no doubt ever be seen). Nothing too fancy because who actually has time to edit their OWN photos right?

But while I was at it, I also edited about 40 photos of my friend’s children that I had taken on the day. And sent them off via messenger to a whole list of lovely families that I knew would love to see them. Guess what? They loved them. Of course they did! But not just loved them, they love love LOVED them. And it gave me all the happy joy joys just to know that I had made their day.

Do you remember what it was like the first time you took a photo where you blurred the background and actually got your child or pet or favourite flower in focus? I don’t know about you but for me, it was exhilarating and I’ll actually never forget it. But I think we DO forget just how powerful and emotive it can be to receive a professional photograph when you don’t do it every day for a living.

When I was shooting full time, I actually used to tell my friends that I had forgotten what a ‘normal’ photo looked like because to me – a regular photo had now become something shot at f2.5 on a $5000 machine with 30 minutes of re-touching applied to it.

I can look back now at the last 8 years and think of so many times where I have been able to use share my professional photography with others in my day to day life and know that what I gave them was truly a gift.

My niece’s 21st birthday

My cousin’s wedding

The photos of my best friend and her dog just before he headed for the rainbow bridge

Photos of my mum’s flowers in her amazing garden

Snaps of my children with their best friends on their first (and maybe only ever) camping adventure

And every single sports day for the rest of their lives – or at least until I get told that it’s no longer cool to have a mum with a huge DSLR and fancy floral camera strap chasing them around the oval. At which point I will tell them that it’s not all about them and they actually cannot stop me. Or I might just have to buy that 70-200mm lens I’ve been eyeing off for a while so I can zoom in from the grandstand instead. Ahhhh yes, there’s that expensive hobby thing I was talking about. Worth it though hey! Totally worth it.


When have you been able to give the gift of photography?

We’d love to hear your stories.

Leave a Reply

  1. Shannon Harth

    So so true and this is usually me at school events and I love it!
    The gift of photography is an amazing thing and it’s the reason why I work for Heartfelt to gift these families the gift of tangible images for them on the darkest time of their lives.

  2. Jodi Griffin

    The timing of your post is remarkable. Just yesterday I delivered a USB of images from a session to a friend whose husband died last week, unexpectedly and way too young. I was unsure when to pass the images on….now? In a few months time when the dust has settled? But a comment from her forced my hand and a weight lifted as I handed over images of them together, some she had never seen x

  3. Brittany Long

    Last year I reached out to a family via Facebook who were doing it tough, their youngest son Elliot was only 4 and just about to undergo his second bone marrow transplant after the first had failed, he was a very sick little boy and it was his last chance after being diagnosed with dyskeratosis congenital and aplastic anaemia (bone marrow failure), a condition which it was discovered his older brother Ashton also had the same day they discovered Elliots first transplant had failed. I organised to go and meet them and while I was there I took some photos for them, not knowing if it would be the last set of photos they ever had as a family, with the uncertainty of Elliot even surviving the transplant. Elliot spent many months in isolation, including Christmas of 2017, and it is only recently that he has been able to go home for the first time in more than 12 months for a weekend visit.
    I also give the gift of photography through my work with the Heart Project, an organisation founded by Karen ALSOP which seeks to change lives through photography. See the video below for the most recent project I’ve been involved with, a superhero photoshoot for a true superhero, Elliot

  4. Elizabeth

    When your super passionate about what you do you love to share, i know myself the money value of my photography is less important to amazing memories i give to people. I gift images to family and friends because i think they deserve them and instead of gifts they might not use i give them my time. Which i believe is priceless . Kate you made your friends so happy, and it just shows your passion and your kindness as human

  5. Angela Ritchie

    My story is about another photographer who gave me the gift of photography. In 2014 I met Elaine Harriot at my Maternity session. I remember saying to her on the day that I would love to learn photography and as she showed me the back of the camera I was amazed. I had also booked Elaine to do my sons newborn session. My son Jaxon was born on the 8th of December 2014 and at 3 days old started having seizures and we were admitted back to hospital. I had to contact Elaine and cancel his newborn session. At the time I emailed we didn’t know why he was seizing and we were transferred to another hospital from the Gold Coast to Brisbane. Not long after, my son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and I felt my whole world crumbling down. Fast forward a couple more weeks and we were to return back to the Gold Coast Hospital. During this difficult time I received an email from Elaine saying that she would come to the hospital and take some photos of Jax and it was to be a gift. I couldn’t believe someone would do that. On the day of the session Elaine walks into the hospital room with this big beautiful smile, her camera, a huge bowel, blankets and other props piled up to her head. Keeping in mind it’s quite a walk from the carpark to the ward. It honestly felt like an angel walked into the room that day. My heart had felt so much heartache but she brang some joy that day. We were able to go home after a few more weeks and I recieved Jaxons images in the mail. I had never seen such beautiful photos in my life and I was blown away. Elaine also came to our house for follow up photos a couple of weeks after we got home, a gift also. I will never forget Elaine or what she did for me. I would have only had dodgy phone photos of my son in hospital if it wasnt for her. I still think about her often. I started my photography business in April 2017 and as I grow and learn I hope to pay forward this beautiful gift of photography one day.