Will the real Model Citizen Please stand up! Why I do, that thing I do

The search for perfection

Hannah Williams, New Brighton Beach Photoshoot, Christchurch 2014. ©Hayley Walmsley

Hannah Williams, New Brighton Beach Photoshoot, Christchurch 2014. ©Hayley Walmsley

Why do I do what I do?  One of my greatest beliefs is that there is beauty and perfection in everything.  Even when the world seems broken and sad we can find perfection in the smallest of things! I love working with people who do not seem to think they should be in front of the camera, want to know why? It's because I know withuot a doubt that every single person has something about them that should be explored and celebrated.

This doesnt just come out in people either! If you have ever found yourself staring at a new piece of clothing you have bought, a new phone or maybe you've gone past an old home and thought to yourself "wow", that is what I am looking to capture with my photography. That incomprehensible gut feeling that leaves you in awe. It is possible with every person, and every concept which means it is easily adaptable.

Don't believe me?  It's the end of 2015, we are nearly at Christmas day and I can tell you that this year has been the most successful I have had in business.  Model Citizen has had more clients, more repeat clients and more people who love what I and by extention what my business does!

We embrace the quirky, the different, the cute and the alternative, because for me there is no difference.  We are all humans and all worthy of jaw-dropping images that leave us feeling amazing. 

So why do I do what I do? Because I can, because I believe in what I am offering and because I am good at what I do.  The reason I am good at what I do has a lot to do with patience and a lot to do with love.

It is around this time of year, every year that I sit down, and have time to reflect, this year Model Citizen has grown in leaps and bounds Like I said above we have had more clients and more repeat clients than ever before! We have grown, quite rightly as a business should and that is all thanks to you, the wonderful people who support me and my dreams.  Given this time of reflection I thought it was about time I reintroduced myself and talked a little bit about what drives me to do what I do and why this is all so important to me.

High School

Hayley Roberts, BottleLake Forest Photoshoot, Christchurch 2015. ©Hayley Walmsley

Hayley Roberts, BottleLake Forest Photoshoot, Christchurch 2015. ©Hayley Walmsley

It is not one of those stories where I explain that I had a camera to my eye constantly through high school, was on the school newspaper team or anything like that.  In fact, during high school while I loved art, it wasn't in the darkroom you would find me but in one of the pokey holes in the art room working on my latest oil painting. One of the reasons for this was I found it incrediblly hard to relate to the other kids my age, I had friends, I had awesome friends (Hi Fern, Storm, Helen, Corinna, Calvin, Craig, Luke, Kellie and Daniel), but I found it increasingly difficult to hang out with kids in a bigger crowd. Actually, my friends these days will likely attest to the same thing (Hi Crystal, Jess, Christal, Christiaan, Theuns, Alex and everyone else); You put me in a room with more than 2 people and i'll be the dork that makes an inappropriate joke at an inopportune time and make a fool of myself! I am used to it now, im *that* girl.

I did howeverlove taking pictures and was more than a little click happy, which, to my mother disdain meant that she was constantly complaining about the price of film and cost of developement. But for me it was more a process of documenting (and an early form of scrapbooking) the kids I spent time every weekend, at church and on camps.  It wasn't completely so that I could document my friends, although I count them as my friends, but at the time I felt like I didn't quite belong anywhere, yup, I was your typical confused teenager.  So photographing became my way of including myself, having a purpose, and in no small way it made me feel like I was part of the team.

Anyway what has this got to do with anything!?!

Mr T and My first digital camera

Lets move on a few years, When my son turned 2 I finally got a digital camera.  I was so excited because for the first 2 years of his life I was stuck borrowing a friends camera or taking him places like pixifoto.  Now lets face it, pixioto do a great job for what they are, a high volume, rack em in and pump em out service model. This suits many people who are wanting somthing a little more thaan a yearly school photo as they often had free sessions with a large free print and then you paid through the nose for everything else.  I should say that I have no isssue with pixifotos prices, but at a time in my life when I was a poor student, I wanted more than what I was getting for a fraction of the price.  These days I can understand why Pixioto no longer operates in Dunedin.  They had a lot to battle against and their model of business didn't help them any in this Dunedin economy!

Shyana Winton, Styx Mill Reserve photoshoot, Christchurch 2015 ©Hayley Walmsley

Shyana Winton, Styx Mill Reserve photoshoot, Christchurch 2015 ©Hayley Walmsley

My first digital camera was a fuji finepix point and shoot, and I thought it was amazing! and indeed it was compared to what I was used to. But it didn't take me long to outgrow it! Not only did the battery run out after about 4 hours, but the zoom was so slow that there was this one time while I was at Motuihi Island with Mr T that a little blue penguin swam right in by my feet.  We both did the "oh shit a human/penguin" thing and it swam off.  By the time I had zoomed in it was 2 metres away which looked like 10 metres and by the time I zoomed back out it looked like it was 200m away instead of the 20 or so, so I missed the shot. And, I was tired of missing the shot, so soon after I upgraded to my first DSLR.

What has this got to do with the price of cheese?

You know that's a nice story and all, but what has it got to do with this particular business?  I'll tell you. All those years in high school, with the bad self esteem and not fitting in, combined with all those years without a camera lead me to what some might call a profound realisation. Photography iss still a luxury item, but it is also still an art and can help me fulfill my creative side.

By this stage I had owned a DSLR for a couple of years and while a good camera (or a step up from my last camera) always helped me get better images than I ever had before I had never even thought about going into business as a photographer. It was 100% a hobby and pretty much something I kept around because I wanted good photos of my child.  What was frustrating me was this creative need to get better at what I was doing, to strive to create the most beautiful images of my chilld.

And you know what, looking back I failed spectaularly compared to the likes of other photographers like Holly Spring and Elena Shumilova, a Russian Mother, both of whom take the most stunning images of their own children! I guess this is what made me think of taking a course in photography. Feeling like I had something to show people But not having the skills to do so.

From then till now

Trenton, Wharf Precint Photoshoot, Dunedin ©Hayley Walmsley

Trenton, Wharf Precint Photoshoot, Dunedin ©Hayley Walmsley

Since then, my passion for photography has only grown, originally I wanted to be a food photographer, and I still do food photography in my commercial work as well as in my fledgling food blog (you can find it here, its fairly empty atm but will start filling up soon enough!).  One of the least know facts about me is that I used to be a chef.  I have worked in some amazing locations like Skycity, and Iguacu (which used to be in Parnell) and so my love of food goes hand in hand with my love of photography.

After completing my Diploma in digital photography extramurally through S.I.T, I started to take images of people, i'll readily admit, much of my early work sucked, despite having a diploma in photography there is just so much you still need to learn about running a business, working with people, making them comfortable and honing those photography skills while trying to get those killer shots clients. Throughout all of this I strive to maintain getting the shots the clients want while not compromising on my own vision and purpose.  I failed dismally for about 2 years, while i thought I was good, hindsight is a harsh master. As I continue to climb in skill and dexterity I am constantly amazed by the little tweaks I make that make my editing better, tidy up my workflow and result in stunning end products.

Will the real Model Citizen please stand up

Cheesy Eminem  hi-jack aside. This is why I do what I do.  I love interacting with people in a world that seems to have so much screen time these days. Making connections, creating memories and helping people to be something bigger than themselves. I really think that not a single one of us has any clue just how much of an impact we have on the people around us and through them the impact that they have on the people around them.

We owe it to each other and ourselves to do meaningful things with our lives.  For me that is art. Art is, without a doubt the reason I live. It is my duty to share that passion with the world and that is why I do what I do.  Capturing the beauty in the world and showcasing it through my photography, capturing the essence of a person and concentrating it in one image is how I choose to leave my mark on the world.

I want to thank you all for coming along on this journey, because without you it would be close to impossible!  If you share my vision, then please let me know what gets you firedup in the comments below.

Heres to 2015 and looking forward to an even better 2016