I’ve been interested in photography for the longest time. At an early age, I would set up “studios” in our basement to photograph my
bossed-around brothers willing subjects against such riveting backgrounds as wrinkled bed sheets and hastily-hung blankets. I dug and dug for examples of these artistic gems last weekend while home at my parents’ house, but the next best thing I could find was this page from a middle school autobiography project, detailing that I want to run my own photography studio when I’m older:
In college, I had my first exposure to some real photography classes as part of my journalism degree. I was more into the layout/design career path, not taking photographs, but I still have fond memories of the early exposure (pun intended) to shooting in manual mode and developing film in the darkroom.
When my first job out of college centered around the scrapbooking industry, the interest in photography took on a new level, and I was rarely without my point-and-shoot capturing some over-flashed, poorly composed (but still recorded!) moments of my twenties. (PS – I reallllly liked dramatic tilt, can you tell? — That would be Lake Michigan in the background – and apparently there’s a tidal wave happening.)
Two years ago, I finally bit the bullet and with birthday cash from family to help me, I purchased my first “real” camera, which I didn’t take out of Auto mode for a whole year. But all the while, I was following photography blogs, subscribing to newsletters, and taking a class here and there. In the shot above (party prep for my first Oscar party!) I was clearly still getting the hang of tack sharp focus.
Photography excited me and scared me all at once. It was overwhelming to simultaneously think about aperture and shutter speed and ISO and lighting conditions and exposure…and that was without anyone in front of the lens to direct or pose at the same time. I worked on a LOT of still life shots over the following months — controlling the scene and the subject while figuring out all the other mechanics. The last of these to learn was clearly white balance…as seen in the yellow cast birthday cake slice (Happy birthday, Lulu – 2011!) shot above.
I’m not usually a self-doubter, but in this case, I wondered if I could ever really get the hang of this. I decided to just start by learning more and more so I could get a better self-assessment. I took more classes at a local shop, purchased online video training, joined webinars, and read, read, read every book or blog I could find. And slowly, but surely, things started to click.
I started taking impromptu shots of friends and family and putting them on facebook. A couple friends asked me to take family pictures for them. I was still very focused on getting all the camera settings right and not very good at doing any amount of directing or carrying on conversation with the people in the shots to make them feel comfortable while doing so. But I was thrilled for the practice, and fell in love with the fact that I got to be an observer of awesome moments between the people I was shooting. It wasn’t long before I realized I may have more practicing to do, but I was in love with photographing people.
Love aside, the fact remained that I was quickly becoming aware of the mounting investment I was making in the equipment and the time it takes to shoot and edit each session. And yet with every round of photos I did for friends and family, I wanted to do “just one more” to further practice before making anything “official”.
After several “just one mores”, I finally feel confident and consistent enough, and like I’ve found my style, to start making this a bit more than a hobby. 🙂
A huge THANK YOU to the encouraging friends and family who’ve helped me get this rolling! I’m excited for this new endeavor more than any other project I’ve taken on. For anyone interested, please visit me over at my facebook page (website coming soon!).