It's been a long September. I had twenty paying gigs. Four of them were weddings. One of them was a campaign launch. One - a 50th birthday bash. Two were commercial projects, one for the cover of a magazine.
Many of them involved photographing children at school, as part of my new "Year in the Life: School Edition" series.
Less than a year ago, I sat at my desk, planning operations for my business for 2017. I'm a big sucker for making plans, especially if they involve mapping out what an ideal week would look like. So I grabbed pad and pencil and fleshed out what a busy and rewarding month of photography would consist of, in the life of Viara Mileva Photography. This was back in December.
And this September, it happened. I got exactly the kind of work I craved, with exactly the kind of varied types of sessions I'd hoped for.
Weddings: I love them. In case you don't know, I run a wedding photography business with my friend and fellow photographer Liz Cooper. Our wedding photography business is called Quirky Love Photography (after recently being renamed from Quirky Love Project). Why Quirky? I think I explained it before like this,
"the 'Quirky' is a modifier of us, the photographers. Not the love. That is to say, we're a pair of quirky photographers who photograph love. Not a pair of photographers who photograph quirky love. Though we do love it when our clients are self-admitted quirksters, too. It makes us feel right at home!" (link here)
What I love most about weddings is that they are so honest. When people are busy figuring out how to pull themselves together and not sob ugly tears during a ceremony, they tend to forget all about you, and give you free reign of capturing the mad rush. The wedding day is all one big rush of excitement, hustling from one place to another, with small pockets of calm in between. (e.g., the boys, getting ready with flasks of whiskey, long before they realize that it will take them no less than fifteen minutes to figure out the boutonnieres.)
That is a contrast to the documentary family sessions I love to photograph. Those are my bread and butter. They're intimate. They're personal. They're families, letting you inside their homes, trusting you with everything, showing you a glimpse of their lives, stifling whatever fears they might have about the process. It's quiet, even during the moments of kids screaming, tantrums, tears, laughter, trampolines, and food spilled on the floor. Those sessions are quiet in a way that few other types of photography sessions can be. They're full of vulnerability. Some clients are vulnerable because they aren't sure how their lives 'measure up' to what they have seen (the answer is: they do. everyone's family life and dynamics are different, and no one's life is perfect. and who the heck is anyone to judge, anyway?). *I* am vulnerable because I want nothing more than to honour the true spirit of a family in front of me. This shared vulnerability makes the magic.
Midway through the month, I threw out my back. It might have had something to do with the 15-hour wedding I shot two days prior to that, or with my TERRIBLE posture when editing photographs. Or with the fact that I'm getting old. So old... :D
Anyway, my relentlessly packed schedule didn't really allow for a thrown out back. With Motrin and RobaxAcet spilling out of every nook and cranny in my van, I set about to dutifully fulfilling my promises to clients. I had a lot of fun in the process, actually. For those of you who have had this thrown out back experience, did you ever feel like you were positively *reborn* when you woke up the next day with SIGNIFICANTLY LESS pain? I sure did. With my new-found arrogance in the face of pain, I trudged from City Hall to Wolfe Island, to community garden after community garden. I photographed kids putting out fires, and adults eating cake with delight.
Then I went home and slept and spent time with the family, cooked with my daughter, enjoyed our three new barn kittens and donkey, and listened to my kids attempt to get a sound out of a trumpet. (Oh, and I got hooked on Nashville on Netflix, so you can expect a lot more y'alls from now on, if that's even possible).
And once in a while, I'd open up an email or Facebook message that would say something like,
"Viara, the pictures are amazing!!!!!!!!!!! you have such an incredible eye! I love each and everyone! Thank you , thank you, thank you!"
and it would melt my heart (I promise I didn't add extra exclamation marks to that quote for effect). It made all that hustle worth it. Because, as my husband pointed out to me recently, there are very few careers that can give you such a personal and heartfelt connection to people every time.
So, three cheers for people in love, three cheers for parents and non-parents and families and anyone out there who is facing up to life as it comes, and trying to make an honest go of it. And if you ever feel like taking the plunge into unchartered territory, or changing up careers in mid-life, three cheers for you, my friend. I'm here to tell you - it's been damn worth it for me so far.
photographs © Viara Mileva 2017