Wake Up Your Child Within


Gregory Daniel
M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, F-ASP

Many of you may have started out in this wonderful profession after picking up a camera and falling in love with the images. That incredible feeling you get from seeing a scene from a different perspective or capturing a spontaneous moment in time of someone you loved. No matter which road led you to loving photography I think we can safely say it ultimately came from a deep passion rooted in the process of creativity. Waking up that small child within us who loves the process of creating something uniquely yours is a remarkable gift. As time goes on it is easy for all of us to suppress our inner child which leads to the dampening of our creative spirit.

Creating a business is hard and dealing with clients can be even harder, leading to the need for processes and routine instead of discovery. Putting client needs first and working to please people can put us in a rut. This rut can devour our joy, our creativity, and our life. What would you say if I told you there is a way out of the rut to rediscover your creativity?

For years I would hear and read about the need to stand out from the crowd, be different from your competition, or offer a new twist. This all sounded so good but figuring out the “how to do it” was always missing. I can remember attending amazing seminars and conventions where I learned tons of great ideas about our craft which we implemented every year. Our business grew to one of the most successful wedding studios in the country but something was missing. I was falling into the rut of producing products for everyone else except for me. Haunting me was the constant advice to be different and unique. I knew there needed to be a change before I became burnt out.

Giving myself the permission to wake my inner child and revisit creativity changed everything. Exploring my childhood memories, I remembered how much I enjoyed a new box of crayons, the box of 64 with a sharpener. The joy of getting a new Batman coloring book and completing every page. Tracing books were the special treat. Creating a masterpiece from a blank piece of paper filled me up. During visits to the library I would flip through art books in awe of the brilliant colors and shapes.

During this time of tapping into my inner creative child we would visit art galleries whenever possible. Then it happened. We were visiting an art gallery in San Francisco showcasing artist Guan Zeju, a realistic painter. On display was his collection of ballerinas which I was immediately drawn to because my wife Lesa was a ballerina.

I loved the gallery and how it showcased each individual piece of art with spotlights. Each piece of art had so much texture and vivid colors. The very special piece titled White Gauze Skirt was $80,000, just a bit out of our price range. But there was one just like it for $6,000. We asked about the differences between what were seemingly identical pieces. The young man described a new process the art world had discovered called embellished reproductions.

The artist photographed their art then used photoshop and a digital printer to lay inks onto canvas and hand finished it with acrylics and oils. I turned to Lesa and said this is it! I can do this in our world. This was in the early 90s just when digital was beginning to impact our industry. New programs like Photoshop and Corel Painter as well as archival inkjet printers were providing the perfect tools for the embellishment process. We immediately began to transition into emulating the art gallery business model, transforming our branding, products, and services.

I would have never created our dream business if it wasn’t for all the PPA seminars and convention speakers consistently sharing their wisdom. Encouraging me to look within and tap into my creative inner child became the pivot we needed to eliminate ruts and burnout. I encourage each of you to look to your own inner child. Thinking back to the art you loved as a child can open the door to new creative possibilities.

Greg and Lesa Daniel are internationally recognized for their artistry. Though he is one of the most awarded photographers in the United States, Greg has the utmost privilege of living out his passion every day alongside Lesa in operating their portrait photography galleries in both Indialantic and Titusville, Florida. He has achieved both the title of Master of Photography and The American Society of Photographers Fellowship. In addition, Greg was one of the youngest members to be inducted into the prestigious Cameracraftsmen of America in 1991, proud founding member of the International Society of Portrait Artists (ISPA). To learn more about them, go to GregoryDanielPortraits.com.