When I was 12 years old, my parents gave me my first camera, a Polaroid. It was love at first sight.
I’m 51 now, and I’ve spent countless happy hours shooting personal projects as well as professional ones. I’ve shot weddings, concerts, family portraits, babies, dogs, you name it. I’ve spent the past five years specializing in environmental portraits of high school seniors, and have had a marvelous time.
But when I first started thinking about transitioning to gray hair a few years ago, I worried that letting my natural silvers show might turn off prospective clients.
There are senior portrait photographers out there who are much younger than me; some of them are barely out of high school themselves! They spend time on Snapchat, follow and interact with teen clients on Instagram, and relate to teenagers in a way that I can’t (or won’t) at 51.
I am “Mrs. Emery” to a lot of my teen clients, some of whom I’ve known since they were in kindergarten. I’ve seen them grow up, I’ve been on Cub Scout and Boy Scout trips with them. They’ve been to my house, eaten my cookies, and I’ve become friends with their parents. I don’t worry about losing those clients because I’m too old. We’re like family, and they are comfortable with me.
But what about the ones who don’t know me? When they see my profile picture, will they turn away because I look like their Mom? Their grandma?
Those thoughts kept me from embracing my grays. But on the day when I decided to say “I’M DONE” with dyeing, I also decided to say “I’m done with worrying if people think I look old.”
Instead of worrying about my age, I’m going to focus on what age has blessed me with: experience.
I’ve had 39 years of experience behind the camera. I’ve learned the ins & outs of photography, how to interact with clients, how to use everything from large-format film cameras to digital SLRs. This experience cannot be discounted.
So, instead of worrying about looking older to my clients, I am going to focus on marketing my experience to them. Show them why they should choose me instead of someone else.
Since deciding to ditch the dye, I have been on a creative bender.
In the last 6 months, I have taught myself WordPress, AdobeInDesign, and the ins & outs of Instagram, Canva, YouTube, and blogging.
Yesterday, for the first time in 20 years, I dragged out my professional lighting equipment and started re-learning how to use it.
Today, I’m learning how to tether my laptop to my camera so I can make a professional looking YouTube video (as opposed to the one I posted yesterday!)
It’s easy to feel surprised that something as “silly” as ditching the dye could change my life, but as I wrote here, it’s not just about hair or appearance.
This embracing of our grays and renouncing society’s expectations is profoundly liberating. It liberated me from thinking self-defeating thoughts like, “I’m too old to learn new things.”
And that leads me to my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT:
I’m going to expand my photography business to include my Silver Sisters!
In the next few months, I will start offering Silver Sister portrait sessions to women in the Los Angeles area to celebrate their journey to gray hair. Several different packages will be offered, and I can guarantee you this – we will have FUN!
I am also going to offer digital services to those of you who want help with creating gray-hair transition collages, slideshows, and videos.
More details will be posted shortly.
In the meantime, Happy Labor Day (to my friends in the USA 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸!!) and Happy Monday to the rest of you!
And, please let me know in the Comments section below if you have also experienced a creative (or other) outburst since you decided to go gray?
I’d love to hear from you!