Last week I started a new Friday series about how I started in photography. It all began with a bionic arm, a parents desire to help in the rehab process and the wonderful fact that DSLR’s are quite heavy!
If you missed that post and are interested in catching up on my bizarre, non-traditional beginning, you can check it out here!
To continue my completely off the wall story, I have to tell you that if you are interested in photography at all you need to be extremely grateful and appreciative of your friends starting right now! Your friends and family are the first people, first clients really, that are willing to step in front of your camera and help you learn and grow!
I was really fortunate my first few years to have lots of friends experiencing pretty huge life events.. mostly in the baby department! My friends and family believed in me and they were the ones that helped create my passion for photography. They inspired me to dream about taking something that was fun and a love “on the side” and turn it into a real business.
My first “shoot” was that engagement session I did on the beach with my friends for their save the date. Looking back now it was gosh darn awful! It was windy and in full sun! There were horrible shadows and I won’t even dare get into the mistakes made through harsh over editing! The angles were weird and I don’t even know that my friend and her now husband were even in focus. But what mattered is that my friend loved them and it helped me gain the confidence I needed to say yes the next time someone else asked me to take their pictures!
I’m sure I did a few other little sessions after Katie’s but the one I remember the most was a maternity shoot with my friend Amy. This was the shoot where things were starting to come together. The colors were looking Ok. The posing was nice and natural and Amy just looked beautiful. It was a session I was incredibly proud of. So proud that I dared post a few for critique in a daily photo community I had joined.
The photos received positive feedback with a few helpful tips for improvement; and I was ecstatic!
Joining that group was one of the most positive things I could have done for myself just starting out and learning about photography. It was a huge cheerleading group for the most part. There wasn’t much to be said for any constructive feedback if you were looking for ways to improve , but occasionally I would get information from other photographers about how to construct the shot a different way or improve the horizon if I wanted. The other great thing about this group was that I was able to look at other photos up for review and post my own comments. Often times those photographers would give out technical information on how they worked the details of that particular shot!
This was so fantastic as a beginner! I would try ALL of those shots, even the really crazy studio shots just to see if I could recreate any of the magic that I saw posted earlier that day. I would sit in my tiny apartment trying to capture the splash of an apple as I dropped it in a cup. My carpet would be soaked and my image would be awful but I had an amazing time for 3 hours figuring out how the photographer was able to get the droplets so clear!
As time went by, I kept practicing and I kept shooting. I learned what I loved to shoot and what I was not such a fan of shooting. I learned what images and style I was getting the best critiques for and what styles were definitely not my strongest! I was also paying close attention to what my friends were calling me to photograph most often. All of these things would turn out to be really important years later!
I found photography blogs that I loved; other photographers that I really felt connected to and loved to read and study. I was still learning about photography and practicing with camera, but I was starting to hit a bit of a wall.
And then one day I got a real critique on one of those daily photo challenge images. It was a good critique with some constructive feedback from a local (YES LOCAL) photographer and I wasted no time in figuring out who this photographer was and contacting her ASAP! Turned out this local photographer was kind of getting to be a big deal in the area around this time! We e mailed and she gave me some feedback on a few more images. She was straight forward and to the point! She didn’t sugar coat but she was still kind and supportive at the same time. She gave me a place to move forward!
A year later, my husband and I were getting married and I hired that photographer to shoot my wedding! There was no other person at all that I wanted on that day, no bones about it!
Today… she is my mentor and she has helped me grow this year by leaps and bounds.
Which will take me into next week’s part 3.
What I needed in order grow and develop my skills in photography!