Emily and I had just had a crazy idea.
At the time we were on a flight from Kuala Lampur to Mumbai.(See some of the photos from that trip here) It was Christmas Eve, and we had just enjoyed the most spectacular few months pinballing around South East Asia. We had a couple of months in India left on our tour, and the reality of ..well.. an ultimate return to reality, was looming.
We pushed aside the tin foil plates from the aeroplane food and started drawing up a plan on a napkin that would enable us to work a) for ourselves and b) together when we returned home to South Africa. We had some photographic equipment, and a whole bunch of enthusiasm, but we also knew that you couldn’t accumulate corporate photographic clients quickly enough to pay off the credit cards bills and other expenses as they came in, over the first year of embarking on a professional photographic career. You need a great portfolio of work to impress anyone that is prepared to pay the rates that we needed to charge, and the portfolio we had to present was, for the most part, travel oriented.
As luck would have it, family photography, was becoming more and more popular (popularity is still growing). We found a market that was prepared to pay for professional photographs, and that appreciated the friendly but professional service we offered. Peppermintpix was born.
I wasn’t sure about the route at first, as I found myself taking photos of babies along with the families. At one stage I was referred to as a “baby photographer” by a colleague, which really got my male ego hackles up. I was grumpy for a while, until I started realising that we were paying the bills, and ego took a back seat and let survival drive, and I focussed on delivering the best I could, one shoot at a time.
At the same time I was able to shoot other work for my portfolio and slowly started attracting corporate clients. Soon after, an interesting thing happened. As soon as we weren’t depending entirely on shooting families to pay the rent, I started to find moments during those same family shoots where I was able to capture “stand alone” images that I was really proud of. The combination of unique people and unique and beautiful locations often lead to a photographic moment that would otherwise not have been able to take.
Don’t get me wrong.. I have always been proud of the quality of the shoots we delivered, but suddenly there were a few shots that I was proud of outside the scope of “Family Photography”. Fast forward a year or so, and I really look forward to the family shoots we do, regardless of the scorn that some professionals have for the “softer” side of the photo industry. Each one represents an opportunity to marry a location, subject and moment that are not planned to the nth degree as some of the other shoots we do are, and create images that are magical in their own right, as well as providing priceless memories for a client. The atmosphere is less serious, and by the end of the shoot everyone is on a high.
So now when asked what kind of a photographer I am, I a happy to call myself a generalist, or even a bit of a “photo slut.” I am confident that I have the skills to handle almost any shoot that comes our way, whether it be an engagement shoot, maternity shoot, food shoot or a full on production with professional models, stylists etc. And the best is that I enjoy shooting it all.