My Why – Why I Pick Up My Camera

In the Beginning

Years ago when my husband purchased my first DSLR camera for my birthday, I shot for fun. As many do when starting out, I photographed my friends, family, kids and even animals. There was never an opportunity I didn’t jump at to practice composition, using natural light and posing my friends or family. I was always excited to learn to use my camera, use light in different ways and try various compositions.

Soon I started getting asked to photograph families and friends (and get paid). It was so flattering that someone would want me to document their families. Photography was exciting to me, but something was missing. I took a few classes here and there and learned all the rules. With each little step of learning I was excited, but I will was’t sold on becoming a photographer.  Every time I looked at my images, I would only see people posing. I saw what they looked like and I saw staged moments.

It All Changed from There…

What I didn’t see in my images were personalities and real moments. I wanted to see WHO people are, not just what they looked like and real life! Documented moments that make you look back and relive those emotions or moments all over again. So I changed my style of shooting -newborn sessions changed, family sessions changed, etc. Just about every session I have now is completely different than when I first began. My goal is to really capture who my clients are, not just what they look like. It takes some planning and direction, but these sessions are by far the most fun!

Where it Came From

Growing up my mom kept a plethora of photographs. There were photo albums galore and boxes upon boxes of old photographs. One of my favorite things to do is go back through those albums and photographs and reminisce of sweet childhood memories. My favorite images were the candid, emotion-ful images. Weather it was water shenanigans with my sisters, waterskiing, hanging on the dock or catching fish; those images were and still are my favorites. My least favorite? The posed family portrait. The one where we were all in the same clothes or dresses and all staring/smiling at the camera. Don’t get me wrong, a classical family portrait is great. However, the images that made me re-live childhood days all over again were my favorite. These are the kind of images I want to create. Ones that bring back memories, emotions and feelings. 

This! This was my why. This was the reason I pick up my camera.

Of course as a photographer I want all my photographs to be technically correct, the light to be gorgeous and the composition to be perfect. But focusing so much on the rules of the game, can make you miss out of so many great moments. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to learn the rules and learn them well. But letting go a little of that and focusing on real moments and raw emotions is where it’s at. This is what makes me love photography and love what I do. This is why I chose to pursue a career in photography and why I pick up my camera just about every day.

Lifestyle & Documentary Photography

Here is an image of a group of cousins that I photographed years ago together. We had shot an entire session on a gorgeous sailboat. Of course all of the images on the sailboat are great and we all love them…but this ended up being the favorite image of the day. An ice cream treat after our session – where all of the little personalities shined. If you know this family, you know each little personality is portrayed right here in one photo.

Lifestyle Family Photography

And this image…this was after a posed shot when the kids just thought it would be fun to tackle dad. I knew this might be coming and that this would be my favorite.

LifestylePHotography & My Why

This image means so much to me….this is our oldest and shows his love for music and for just being joyful. He’s ALWAYS singing, playing an instrument or dancing.


A boy and his daily encounter with his cow – giving him a taste of the garden while his sisters water the vegetables. (This was a fun afternoon which you can view right here)

Why I pick up my camera

Here is an image from another lifestyle session. Just a couple of simple, un-posed moments.

Stuart Lifestyle Photography

My own little ninja warrior…

Stuart Lifestyle Photographer - My Why

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