If You Could Do One Thing as a Photographer…

Here’s mine. If I could do one thing as a photographer, it would be to photograph people’s parents and grandparents, sort of a celebrity photographer to regular people. Celebrating their magic.

How about you, if you could do one thing as a photographer, what would you do? What would be the one thing one thing you’d want to be known for, and you’d be able to sustain yourself doing it? Ansel Adams was the nature photography. Edward S. Curtis was the Native American photographer. Richard Avedon and Irving Penn were the fashion and celebrity photographers. Vivian Maier and Helen Levitt were street photographers. William Eggleston and Stephen Shore are color art photographers.

How about you? What would your title be, that you’d love to be known as?

If I could do one thing as a photographer, and I’d have financial support so no need to worry about funding, I’d photograph parents and grandparents in my studio not wearing jeans and a Carhartt jacket or North Face fleece shirt to the shoot, not sitting outside under a tree or a by a creek, but dressed up in an elegant dress, a smart-fitting tailored suit, made in-studio to create a special look to be remembered by generations of children to come.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d make portraits of people who don’t often get their portrait made because they’re older, no one thinks to make a formal portrait of them anymore, and make a really high-quality photograph like I would for a magazine story and let them feel how important they are, how special they are to family members. To bring the lights and make it a big deal–make them a big deal. To show them that it’s imperative that their portrait is made, that it’s important to their family that this photograph be part of the family history and the portrait will always be in their home to have them always be with them.

We used to always make high-quality studio portraits.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d travel the world photographing people’s loved ones and gifting them the portraits. They would have to be gifts because I don’t think there’s much market for high-end quality studio formal family portraiture now, but I believe in the need for these portraits to exist.

A lovely face in a formal studio portrait.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d be known for my high-quality portraits of the celebrities of our families, not of Hollywood stars, but Grandpa Bill and Aunt Grace. I met a photographer who photographed covers for Entertainment Weekly magazine throughout the 1990s, and who made photos of all the celebrities of TV and movies, like the Seinfeld cast, the Friends cast, many others. After seeing his work, I felt, yeah, that’d be fun, but they felt like promotional pictures that lasted a week. This work resonates as more important, more lasting, to me.

A wonderful couple that will always be wonderful in this portrait.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d make and print these family portraits for young people who see no value–none, zero–in a photographic print but who will in 50 years when their digital photos are long lost, or who only have poor phone snapshots but wish they had a high-quality portrait.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d travel the world going to senior centers and visiting seniors in their homes to make their portrait, to portray their beautiful faces with studio lighting to make them shine.

From a “Wise Photo Project” portrait shoot in a Colorado senior center.
A forever gorgeous smile.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d make environmental portraits of people in their unique space and gift the photographs to them, at no cost, no strings attached, a pure gift.

David, a mechanic of Model T Ford cars in his home garage.
An elegant posed studio portrait.
A beautiful shared laugh that will never end.
A grin that has to be shared.

If I could do one thing as a photographer, I’d change the world by celebrating our parents and grandparents’ faces, getting known for it and getting press so others would see, bringing awareness to others the importance of photographing them now, while they can and they’re vibrant and still with us, and more people would commission family portraits of their parents and grandparents to showcase in home galleries like people always had in the past.

What about you? What’s your dream, if you could be known as any kind of famous photographer, for a certain specialty, what would it be?

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