FAQ: How did you get started in this?
I get this question almost every session. I never know exactly what to say. I want to have a big girl professional answer like I have been an aspiring photographer my entire life and have always had such a “passion” for photography. Photographers LOVE the word passion. But in reality, I just sort of fell into it, inspired by a very special group of women who know who they are! I have my degree in school psychology. Though after 2 years of interning in a school, I realized it wasnt so much about helping children as I thought it would be. It was very much dictated by a higher power, and not the higher power I was interested in motivating me. I worked from college, through grad school, up until the birth of my first child, as a therapist for children and adults with autism, developmental delays, and emotional disorders. I felt it was much more rewarding on a personal level and I really enjoyed my job and those I worked with. I have always wanted to work with children. I love children. I wanted 100 of my own (until i had 2). After the birth of my first child, I was essentially laid off. I was happy to be able to stay home with my son. I enjoyed every moment (ok. Maybe not EVERY moment) but I documented my son’s every move. I think it was my goal to create a flip book of his entire first year and have it flow together seamlessly as if i could flip the corners of the page and remember every step, every smile, every giggle. It all went by so fast and I wanted to capture it. Freeze it. Stop it! And I wanted to do it well.
It all started off as a hobby. I was among people who inspired me. I wanted to capture movement and depth and reach into my son’s soul through the catchlights in his eyes just like I saw in their photos. But how? I threw myself into it. I showed them all I had. And I fell HARD. It was frustrating at first. These women, these mentors CRITICIZED me. ” Too cool” they said. “Too flat”. “Your white balance is off.” My what? “Lens distortion, chromatic abberation, pinlights”. “OOF, SOOC, RAW” My head was spinning. Ok maybe Im not cut out for this. Despite the criticism all my “facebook friends” were gushing. It was so confusing. Everyone thought my photos were great. Except the people that knew what they were doing 😛 And I know my photos did NOT look like theirs. Like they were supposed to. So I kept on keeping on. I begged anyone that would let me to let them take pictures of their kids. And gradually, the criticisms felt more constructive, than harsh.
It took a long while but I was able to SEE what they were seeing. I portfolio built for close to 2 years before I even thought of starting a business. There was no way I was going to take money from people unless I knew I was confident I could produce results well and consistently. And even then it was hard. I pushed myself hard, took workshops, and posted picture after picture, this time ASKING people to rip it apart. As time went on I became more confident. Though any good photographer will tell you they are rarely fully confident. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. I still chop limbs and skin tone is still a challenge. But now I am confident to know that I CAN break some rules.
I decided that if I can bring myself joy through taking photographs of my own children, then maybe I could do that for others. And I did. And it began taking up so much of my time and money…. and money… and more money and time,that it was time to make this work. I will never forget the day I decided. I was sitting at my computer and my husband asked me if this was just another one of my “phases”. Ok granted. Ive had a few phases. But I mean, a little support would be nice! That was it. I was going to do this. And I was going to do it right. I filled out my business license form, marched myself over to the bank, called the accountant and insurance agency. And Little Whimsies Photography was born.
I could spend time with my kids. I could do what I love to do. I can help support my family. It really is a wonderful position to be in. I have the best of both worlds. Though I have the worst of both worlds too but thats another post! I have never had a job I loved more. Over time I developed my own style, still inspired by others but still my own. I like to think people can look at an image and say “oh thats a little whimsies photo”. I still get excited every single time the photos flash over my computer screen as they upload from my camera. I love meeting new people. I love having something of my own. Something that is mine. That I created through my own blood sweat and tears. Of course a lot of it is fun too! I seriously have some of the best clients. I get to hang out with some really great families for a few hours and give them memories that last forever. The soft downy hair on their newborns shoulders that fades after their first few weeks of life. The look of confusion and amazement at the first taste of icing on their birthday cake. That goofy smile they get when you are sitting there with an elephant on your head singing the hokey pokey. They are all there, forever. I enjoy every moment of it, even the 3am editing! (ok not so much :))
So I am doing what I was meant to do. Be with children, bringing their families joy. Im no where near perfect. Even the most experienced photographers still learn and evolve. I didnt enter in this lightly. I studied. Hard. Camera basics, shooting, editing, safety precautions, etc. Ive taken time to learn and grow and evolve into the photographer I am today. And it didnt happen over night. And when I grow up I want to be Caralee Case or Kristen Mackey, or Pebbles and Polka Dots. But for now, Im Francesca Caputo of Little Whimsies Photography. And I am happy 🙂
And just for your viewing pleasure ( I cant believe Im posting this but hey! we all started somewhere right? By the way I still have that bathroom rug…. <facepalm>)…..