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A New Beginning

A new start back in portrait photography.

When I first bought the domain name for this site, I was still running a portrait studio my father had started as a family business. I had started to create a photography how-to site but then found that there were some very good ones already out there and some saying the exact same things I was. In short, I didn’t see the point in just creating more noise.

A few years ago, we closed that portrait studio.

There were a lot of reasons for doing so. Not all of those reasons were really good reasons either, although some were.

I thought that maybe I could get photography (especially portrait photography) out of my system – out of my head.

It never did. At least not completely. It’s almost an obsessive – compulsive behavior. I’m always trying to find order and composition in what I see. Looking for the perfect light, wondering if someone would look better posed if they just moved their hand a little bit that way…even if I am just talking to them over a custard at Culver’s.

So, a couple years ago I started thinking about getting back into professional photography again.

So this is kind of what went through my head (only it took months for me to see what should have been obvious):

But what type of photography?

Commercial? Editorial? Stock? OK, editorial stock sounded interesting but what specialty? I didn’t really have the large library of images stored up so I would need to build it all from scratch.

About this time, a long time friend of my sister’s spotted me on the side of the road where I had stopped to take some photographs on the way to work. When I told her I was thinking about getting back into photography she quickly volunteered her family for a test portrait. I have no idea what I told her at the time but portraits was not what I was thinking of doing.

Landscape and outdoor photography would be fun but there are already so many photographers doing landscape and outdoor photography. There are only a few really well known photographers that make an income in it. They have tens of thousands of images to sell already.

Maybe some type of sports. I had no plans to photograph professional sports like football or basketball but maybe something smaller.

What kind of photography did I already have experience at? I needed to find something that there would at least be some demand for in the marketplace.

About this time, I met a photographer for the NBA. While we talked, he mentioned that he wished someday to do something that was more important than photographing tall men in short pants.

That really threw me. It also got me to think about what is really important or what kind of photography is really important?

Oh, that’s it! People! Children and families, I have lots of experience photographing them and there is a fairly good demand for that type of photography in magazines.

But where to get models? I really don’t want to be that strange guy hanging around the park taking photographs of children.

I could see it already, ” No officer, really, I’m a photographer.”

The other issue is where are the photographs being used? In stock photography, I wouldn’t always have control of who bought the rights to use a photograph. I just don’t feel comfortable asking a friend to sign a model release if there is the chance that the photograph might be used in some embarrassing way (imagine your photograph being used for a hemorrhoids ad). It doesn’t normally happen but I just don’t feel comfortable about the idea.

Which bring me back to the question:

What kind of photography do I have experience in? In what kind of  business did I have the most experience? Finally, what kind of photography was really important.

The answer to those questions was portrait photography.

But this time, it’s different.

I’ve spent over a year now preparing. Studying new techniques. Refining old techniques. Finding answers to some questions that were nagging. Listening to other photographers who were finding success. Listening to a lot of other photographers complain. Being shocked at some of the really stupid questions some “professional” photographers asked. At the same time, asking some stupid questions of my own (and despite my 9th grade teacher’s claim – yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question).

So, I introduce to you James E Thoenes Portrait Artist.

Logo for James E Thoenes Portrait Artist

Hang around. This is going to be fun!

About James Thoenes

James has spent most of his life involved in photography. He is now dedicated to producing portraits that his clients will treasure for the rest of their lives.