My Journey Back to Authentic Photography

Well, hello there!

I’ll start out simple — I’m Alisha Skeel. I love long walks in the woods, hot apple cider (spiked is best), and….oh wait, this is not that type of blog post.

Among many (many) other things, I am a photographer.

Whether you've followed my photography for a hot second, been a long time friend, or it's your first time on my site, there will be something for you in this blog post. Buckle in, because I'm going to be taking you for a bit of a ride (but seriously hold on tight, this post is a doozy).

It's time for me to talk about the elephant in the room - why my photography business is moving in a different direction. Most of you have caught on. I was hoping you wouldn't, but you are all intelligent beautiful humans, and in the end I love that you did.

If you're not familiar with my work, I've been an established Lifestyle Family Photographer in Columbus, Ohio for about 5 years now. I have hustled hard to reach this point: years of assisting other photographers, answering hundreds of e-mails, taking workshops, designing all of my own content, and lovingly editing thousands of images.

All while holding down a full-time job and being a mama/wife/friend/daughter/employee/etc/etc/foreverandeveramen. 

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I bought into the same idea most photographers buy into — that you'll always make more money by photographing weddings and family portraits. Forget the type of photography you enjoy. And you know what? My business has been booming through this mentality. I have also been fortunate to continuously work with clients who are kind and genuinely amazing people who value my work.

Yet somehow, around June of this year, I was ready to give up photography. 

"HOLD. THE. PHONE. What?!? Why in the world would you consider that?"

- Every person who has ever been emotionally invested in my photography.

Yeah yeah, I know. I think every person in my life that I verbalized this to said something along these lines. It sounds crazy, right? 

But I didn't feel crazy. My gut was telling me something was up. My passion for photography was fading. So I started asking my own questions.

Why was I feeling this way?

What part of these sessions couldn't I get on board with?

Did I just need a break or should I give it up forever?

Then BOOM. It hit me - My photographs weren't real. 

Yes, you read that right. Hear me out.

I was capturing and delivering photos that weren't an honest depiction of the people I was photographing. It's not unusual for me to become friends with my clients, and once I got to know these people I started to see the difference in our day to day interactions.

My direction, prompts, and laid back nature often helped bring out more “natural” moments, but it was only in snippets. I knew my clients, and I didn't feel like I could deliver an authentic look at how beautiful they were as humans and family units. And if I didn’t believe in my own product, who would?

So when did I feel like I was getting it right and truly capturing a family as they really are?

The answer?

*drumroll*

When my clients invited me into their daily life, and they allowed me to capture it. Raw, emotional, fun, silly, hard, messy real life

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Apple picking filled with joy, and laughter, and toddler meltdowns.

Muddy playdates at the park.

Spending time with grandparents who don’t visit often.

Getting ready for nap time on a dreary afternoon.

Chill picnics with friends that include wine, laughter, and being snuggled up by a fire.

Making cookies with a 3.5 year old (seriously, have you tried this one? It’s equal parts amazingly rewarding and whole heartedly patience testing).

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That's where the process begins. Re-aligning with my base values and honing in to what makes me unique from so many of the other hundreds and thousands of photographers out there.

I will bring an honest lens to every photoshoot I show up to. I don't have to look for beautiful moments because they already exist. I don't have to prompt them, because if I'm patient and I wait, they just happen.

I am unendingly optimistic, and I aim to be dependable, loyal, and trustworthy. I put my trust in each client I take on, because I ask them to be vulnerable and trust me in return. I care so deeply about every single person I photograph, because I feel like they’ve shared a piece of themselves with me.  

The business I was running before may have been successful from the outside looking in, but I needed more than that. I needed to build something that felt true to me. Something I could stand behind and be passionate about.

 A rare photo of me and my kiddo in our element, taken by a dear friend of mine.

A rare photo of me and my kiddo in our element, taken by a dear friend of mine.

So here I stand, feeling equal parts terrified and inspired to put myself out there. I’m so excited to share the whole story with you guys in 2019. If you want to follow along, sign up below (scroll aaaalllllll the way down) and I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop (and maybe even throw some discounts your way).

Until then, I’ll leave you with a quote from the woman who inspired and encouraged the majority of this whole-heart exploration:

“decide that you care more about creating your magic and pushing it out into the world than you do about how it will be received.” 
― Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

I love you all. Stay tuned.

<3 Alisha Skeel

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