Why are you changing so much?
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By Christie Stockstill
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Why are you changing so much? It sounds like my Christmas cards are going to cost a fortune and you’ll have us all wearing curtains and levitating!

I’ve known for a long time that my heart is in art (I love everything from sculpture to contemporary dance) and storytelling (I’m a sucker for a great character and I geek out over a brilliant sentence.)

What the heck does that have to do with why I am writing business policies, cutting out sneak peeks, creating new sessions, prices and procedures, ditching my old blog for this new one, and building an online store to replace the viewing gallery I have now? 


The answer is everything.

It’s all related to my passion for art and storytelling and genuine emotion and real, true, actual relationships and preserving art and history for future generations, and looking at, laughing about, remembering all these beautiful days we have here. 

About six years ago I quit teaching high school English to go into business as a photographer. Truth be told, it was not the safe bet.  On paper, it was a crazy thing to do.  I mean, I didn’t really have that much experience shooting portraits, and I had no idea how to set up a business.  I didn’t even know how to crop an image in Photoshop! My husband did all my retouching while I stood over his shoulder, directing and driving him crazy with little details to adjust and corrections I wanted him to make. What I did have were some good images of my friends and their families, a stubborn (and somewhat naive) can’t-fail attitude, and a LOT of support. 

Stay with me.  It’s all relevant. I promise. (Or just go ahead and skip to the end of the post.)

Since I started my business, I have photographed pets, clothing, flowers, sunsets, toys, newborns, families, pregnant women and the elderly. I’ve been the photographer at births, graduations, weddings, birthdays, book releases, spiritual retreats, and family reunions. I’ve done a lot of work for the sole purpose of doing my part to feed, clothe and shelter my family, who are, themselves, the subjects of far more images than they want to be.  

I have had a few different websites and several blogs over the years.  I have watched online tutorials, webinars and You Tube videos. I have subscribed to business, baby and photography magazines. I have stalked websites, researched pricing, brainstormed hundreds of packages and sessions. I have read books, articles and PDFs.  Joined forums. Participated in chatrooms. Followed blogs. I have searched far and wide for new and interesting locations, scoured vintage stores and thrift shops for new fabrics, antique props and great dresses. I have been to retreats, workshops, conferences, and conventions. I even had my own studio for a while! Twice.

Business cards. Brochures. Upgrades. Fees. Insurance. Equipment. Replacement equipment. Renewals. Education. Art stores. Museums. Accountants. Assistants. Models. Albums. Templates. Taxes. Products. Prints. Projector. Screen. Gasoline. Domain names. Film. Cards. Paper. Printers. Camera. New camera. Computer. New computer. Laptop. New laptop. 

I have spent an ungodly amount of money.

All that money, time, practice and experience, all those successes and failures, and a steady stream of soul-searching and self-reflection have brought me here. If you’ve hung in this long, thank you, I’m finally getting to the point.

Here goes... 

I have grown as a person, a photographer and an artist. Grown too much and too different to make a little note on Facebook.  I want to offer something new with my business.  I want to do work that is different.  I want to create fine art for my clients.  I want my clients to be IN the fine art! 

...but I’m not leaving family portraiture behind!  I just want it to look a little bit different.  

For the past couple of years, I have had many, many wonderful clients who want to work with me because they think I am creative or my work is more artistic in style, but it has been hard for me to really know just how creative to get.  It seems that really, most people kind of want both.  The problem is that I can’t really deliver an elaborate conceptual piece at the same time that I do updated portraits of the children, grab a great shot for the holiday card and capture the magic and emotion of a family dancing or cooking together.  Plus, the resulting products NEED to be different.  If I get hired to shoot while a family has a food fight or bakes cookies together or has a picnic, the resulting images would make a gorgeous book, telling that story, reminding you of that day.  If, on the other hand, you really want one or two large pieces of art, creatively representing the very essence of your child, requiring me to build props or create fabulous dresses, we will likely be working toward larger, fine art prints on archival quality paper, matted, signed and framed.


To be fair, to be upfront, to be clear, I needed to look at the way I organize my business and describe what I do. I will dedicate several blog posts to answering questions I anticipate; I will share work that I love; I will share updates; I will do some promotions. My wish is for the new blog to be a place for both new and established clients to explore and get ideas.  I will write about my experiences trying to get work into galleries. I plan to share tips, tricks, and tools that will benefit novice photographers as well as experienced (assuming I have anything to offer.)  I would like try to put up some before and after images. I would like to share other artists’ work. I would love to offer contests and photo challenges. I’m kind of excited, y’all. So, whether you need inspiration or motivation or are just scoping things out, I hope you’ll share, comment, participate, tell your friends, share your work, ask me questions, and send me love notes.

To summarize: I've grown and changed. My business needs to represent that. Therefore, I need new everythings. 

O.K. I’ll stop for today.  Way to hang in there. You did great.  


















Leave a comment:
Christie - Melanie, Thank you for taking a look! I feel like it was forever ago that I decided to refocus and really work on including fine art in my client work. I'm nervous because I wonder if I am trying to have my cake and eat it too, as they say. But, you know, if I've got cake, might as well eat it! Right?!
Melanie Hewitt - Great job, Christie! The website looks fantastic. I'm glad you're realizing your photography dreams. I'm still working on what exactly I'm going to do since announcing in Big Planner forum of my refocus to fine art. I'm looking forward to your continuing progress!