Being a portrait photographer during a time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders has been challenging, to say the least. In 2012, I opened my first brick-and-mortar studio and concentrated on portraiture. I never would have thought I’d be forced to stay at home and temporarily stop doing what I love.
While portrait photography is my primary focus and source of income, I also enjoy macro photography—specifically photographing elements from nature. When traveling and hiking, I pack my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. On the trail I stop whenever I see something of interest and make an image. If I’m hiking with other people this tends to slow us down. So while stuck at home, I started thinking about my love of traveling and hiking and how I could use this passion to create another source of revenue.
I began exploring my backyard on a macro level, bringing elements into my home studio to photograph—dried magnolia leaves that drifted into my yard from my neighbor’s trees, skeleton leaves with delicate veining patterns, dandelions, acorns, etc. I wouldn’t have explored the beauty of any of these lovely specimens if I hadn’t been forced to stay at home. My passion didn’t stop at the image making. I began developing a fine art section on my website. I added commerce, created a price list and product offerings, and used N-Vu client gallery software to show how my work would look on the walls of offices and homes.
Producing fine art photography has always been a dream. I’ve wanted to work with galleries and print images on a large scale, but I’ve never carried the idea through. As Steven Pressfield writes in “The War of Art”: “The more important a call or action is to your soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” Lack of time and fear of failure were at the root of my resistance. Running a successful studio takes a lot of time, and I felt I didn’t have the freedom to explore my fine art dream. But while I’ve been at home, I’ve had time on my hands.
In his book, Pressfield goes on to say, “Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive amounts of resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there, too. If you didn’t love this project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you, and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.”
Once I published this collection of fine art photography online, I was flooded with gratification. I’m thankful this passion kept calling me, and I’m happy I answered. This collection takes an abstract look at the beauty of nature. I plan to continue down this path, exploring nature and the fine art world. My hope is that we come out of this economic downturn stronger and driven to do what brings us joy—maybe with a bit more motivation, a bit more hustle. Take this time to discover what it is you’re resisting and pursue it.
Emmalee Schaumburg owns Schaumburg Photography in Lawrence, Kansas.