Stories of Home... and the story of how I got here
Okay. Deep breath. This is a long one.
But first - Hi friends. How are you today?
Have you ever had a goal so outlandish that really you can only refer to it is a dream, because a goal implies that it's something you could actually accomplish someday?
Today, my outlandish dream that I never actually thought would happen... happened.
But first, a little backstory.
Three and a half years ago, a friend sent me the link to a wonderful corner of the web called Craft & Vision.
Yeah, that Craft & Vision. Headed by the incomparable, best selling author and kick ass person, David duChemin, and known worldwide for its legendary photography resources at a ridiculously low price. They have serious names amongst their authors. National Geographic photographers. World renowned photographers. Photographers living the dream, and doing it with grace and passion and a heart for sharing their experiences and knowledge.
My mind was blown. I bought pretty much everything in the store, and then, I'm almost ashamed to admit - I immediately asked myself... "what would it take to be a Craft & Vision author?"
Fast forward three years... and although there was nothing "fast" about it, here I am. Announcing my first ebook with Craft & Vision. Seeing *my* name on their author list. And yeah, it feels surreal.
But this post isn't about me, exactly. Or even really the book. Although I do hope you'll forgive me for giving it a little plug at the end of all this. I have spent nearly a year on this project, after all.
This post is about what happens when you dare to dream big. REALLY big.
I know it's easy to see this side of things, the success side, and think "gosh, it's so easy for everyone BUT me." I have had those same thoughts myself, so many times. It's so hard when so many things seem to be happening to so many others. Or when you do put yourself out there, and you dare to chase that dream, and it doesn't quite work out.
Because the painful reality is, a dream is a dream for a reason. Dreams are risky and heartfelt and scary and amazing and terrifying because they don't hand out participation trophies. You don't get credit for simply dreaming... you get credit for doing. But we don't talk enough about the "doing" - about the things that get us from A to B.
And we don't talk about what happens when we simply don't get to B. About what that in-between can teach us. But it's important. And though I did ultimately get to my "B" - well, there was a lot of heartbreak and struggle in the in-between.
I had doors close on me. Multiple times. I had things that I thought I needed to be successful, never quite materialize. I was told "no" multiple times. I was told I wasn't good enough. That I didn't have what it takes. That I wasn't loyal or interesting or fascinating or pretty enough. Seriously. I was told that. And through those struggles, I had other opportunities pass me by because they thought I was *too* successful. Can you imagine? So yeah, I get the struggle. The in-between is hard. It's impossible sometimes.
Even Craft & Vision itself passed on the first ebook proposal that I submitted a few years ago.
Pushing on through it all took dedication and determination. It took time. It took patience. It took doing the work in between all those bits, to keep going and keep getting better. It took honing in on my path in this world. It took me finding myself, more than I realized I needed to.
And ironically, in the end, it took simply being myself. Because ultimately, the proposal that was accepted was the one where I was the most "me."
For a long time I was trying to be more than I am. Maybe I was trying to prove myself, maybe I was too worried about what everyone else was doing. I thought in order to get those elusive "yes" answers, I had to be more than I am. Special. Unique.
When really, I just needed to do what I loved better than I did the day before.
My biggest competition has always been against myself. My journey forward has always been about being better than who I was the day before.
That's how achieve your dreams. I don't want to gloss over the hard parts, but I do want you to know how important the "YOU" bit is. That what you have inside you, right now, is all you really need. You need to fan that, tend to it, demand more of it, and work your ass off - but you already have it in you.
Trust me. If I can achieve my craziest dream, SO CAN YOU.
Your dream will look different than mine, but I know you have some outlandish thing in you. Something that maybe you haven't even said out loud.
So say it. Then do the work to get there. I believe in you.
And so here I am, sharing my book with you. My dream. It's a book about what I care the most about - family documentary photography. It's where my heart is, it's what I am passionate about, and yet it's the one thing I have shied away from teaching specifically over the years.
This is the first time I have sat down and written about what I do, why I do it, and how you can do it in your own way. It's comprehensive, thoughtful, generous, and the closest I will ever come to showing someone else how to do what I do. Not because I have secrets or I'm worried someone will copy me, but because I am a huge believer that a good teacher doesn't just teach how to do what they do - they teach you how to do what YOU do, better.
This book is the answer to finding a deeper sense of emotion in YOUR family driven work.
It's full of heart, but it's also full of information that will make you a stronger photographer. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope that not only does it inspire you to capture more meaningful documentary photographs, but that it inspires you to dig deep and fight for your own dreams, what ever they are. It's meant for amateurs and professionals, for those who focus on their own family, and those who take on clients.
Stories of Home: The Art Of Photographing Family is now available at Craft & Vision. It's priced at $20, and will be 50% off for the first week it's live. I don't think you'll find a better resource on family photography for a better value anywhere else.
"Kate Densmore has a great eye, but it’s her heart that makes her photographs of family life so vibrant and alive. She is also that rare soul that wants to share that heart, and that’s what makes her so generous a teacher. Stories of Home is full of that heart and generosity."
--- David duChemin ---
"I tore ravenously through "Stories from Home", soaking up every word. Kate breaks down the genre of in-home storytelling photography so clearly for her reader - covering all its components, and sharing methods for getting creative with your photographs to further express your vision of a scene. Peppered through the book are interviews with other inspiring family photographers who share with us their own unique take on this genre of photography. As a family documentary photographer myself, I have been struggling over the past year or so with where my work fits in within this genre. When Kate writes about photographing the way a scene feels rather than the way it quite literally looks, she hit the nail on the head for me, and finally gave me the words to describe the way I photograph my own stories of home. I am ever so grateful to Kate for this wonderful book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to document their own life or the lives of others in an authentic way."
--- Francesca Russell ---
"I love how well Kate was able to make me deeply reflect on my own work. As I read her words and related to her own experiences, I made new connections about my own work. Throughout her book, she offers several creativity exercises, many of which I hadn't thought to do before. I found inspiration and motivation in these exercises and the book as a whole. I cannot recommend it enough!"
--- Erin Hensley ---
"It's been a long time since I have found a resource that he inspired me like Stories of Home has. Kate's approach to teaching is so rich with content but incredibly accessible and understandable at the same time. The creativity exercises she includes are practical and relevant to telling the story of your own family and that of clients. Kate leaves no stone unturned. As an experienced photographer, I was still able to learn and grow from this e-book. Stories of Home is worth every penny (and many, many, many more)!"
--- Erin Pasillas ---
"Kate Densmore’s Stories of Home should be required reading for any documentary artist. Kate’s guidance through the creative and technical aspects of documentary photography and telling stories through images helps you understand not only why these stories are so important to capture, but also how to elevate the emotional connections and beautiful ordinary moments to true pieces of art that families will treasure. Kate’s instruction can guide photographers through purposeful family sessions, as well as any type of documentary session where emotion needs to shine through. I personally document dancers in all different types of settings, and found Kate’s advice on clutter vs context and controlling the frame to be invaluable to my work. Also resonating with me was her thoughts on exploring your vision, which helped me gain confidence in executing the more creative photographs I always have in my head. Brava, Kate!"
--- Nicki Bosch ---
"Kate's teaching style is among the best in the photography industry, and this eBook is no exception. Incredibly thorough and beautifully heartfelt, Kate manages to capture all of the nuances of family documentary photography in a meaningful, accessible, and inspiring way. No matter where you are in your photography journey, you will undoubtedly walk away with a renewed spark to pick up your camera again and capture the beauty of your own 'everyday.' "
--- Lucy Baber ---
"Documenting my family and our lives together is an ongoing project that is so important to me and very dear to my heart. Kate has always had a way of helping photographers define their voice and learn how to translate their vision into a beautiful photograph full of emotion. With her new e-book, she takes her wonderful teaching style up several notches and shows you how to do all of that, while telling your story, from your perspective. I can’t wait to make my next family album, because this year it’s going to be more than just a collection of pretty photographs. Now I’m going to use my photography to put together an album that not only tells the stories of our everyday lives, but also shows my son how much I love being his mother."
--- Allison Chewning ---