My Humble Beginnings....

While looking for a photo on my flickr page - I came across this gem:

At the time, Olivia was almost 3 months old. The night before, I couldn't sleep (Likely because I just went back to work, and was overtired to the point of insanity).  My husband bought me a new camera to replace a Canon Rebel we had for years and I wanted to learn how to use it. 

I was reading the manual online - and stumbled across a basic tutorial from Canon about the exposure triangle.  Up until that point, I just assumed there was some button I could press to make my images amazing - yet couldn't figure out where it was on my shiny new 60D. 

After reading up on how aperture affected the background and how much of it would stay in focus  - I put my newly found photography skills into practice and shot the above photo. 

From there, I read the most eye opening photography book ever and that was the start of my photography journey. 

So in the last 5 years of shooting, I've learned a ton of stuff.  Stuff that I read a BILLION times that just sounded really stupid at the time. Things that DID NOT CLICK with me.   Stuff that I had to learn on my own though copious amounts of trial and lots of error.  

Things like:  

Get it right in camera.  

Yeah  - I totally blew that off.  My mantra for many moons was "I can fix it in photoshop".

I would spend HOURS fixing things.  Like in this photo I mirrored the flowers on both sides of Olivia - yet I was so focused on the flowers, that I totally didn't realize her face wasn't even slightly in focus.

It took several years of tedious photoshop fixes on hundreds of photos before I finally got this memo. 

See the light!  

Ohhhhhh, how I hated this saying. It seemed so obvious. Light was light after all.  Lamp light. Sun light, TV light. I saw the light when I flipped the on/off switch, or when my flash went off.  But I didn't really SEE the LIGHT. Like how light filters through the trees, or small patches of light, or that magical golden light where you can see the little dust nodes that look like pixie dust in the air. Not all light is created equal.  Once I finally understood that phrase and how to work with and utilize light - a billion lightbulbs went off in my head.    When possible now - I hunt for the light FIRST, then work on my composition second. 

Develop your Voice.

My Voice? My what?? The first online photography class I took made a mention about finding your voice and I thought it was a whole bunch of BS. I didn't realize it at the time, but by learning and practice, I slowly carved out a voice for myself.  I didn't even realize it until someone else pointed it out to me. I eventually learned to shoot only what inspires me. What inspires me is the magic of everyday. The beauty in the mundane.   I was a lifestyle photographer before I even knew that "Lifestyle" was a genre.  Before I picked up a camera, I had zero artistic skill.  All I had was this little spark of inspiration that said - "Oh hey - that might make an interesting picture" and just went from there. 

Don't go Gear (Action/editing Webinar/etc) Crazy

I went from a Rebel XT to a 60D to a 5dm3 in about two years. In 3 years I went from owing a 16-135mm zoom and a 50mm 1.4 to owning an unreasonable amount of lenses.  As of today, I use only 3. I bought a ton of actions (I don't use any of them, ever).

The more you shoot and develop your style, the more you streamline. I like the 24, 85 and 200.  Done.  I use a Portra based preset in ACR and sharpen in photoshop  - two clicks and done.  All the crap I bought is gathering dust or dying a slow death on an external hard drive.  You don't need to buy what other photographers use.  You don't NEED TO HAVE anything.  The best kept secret in photography is that you don't have to spend any money.  You just need to PRACTICE. 

Those are just a few things off the top of my head that come to mind when thinking about this journey of mine.  And it is a journey.  I'm learning to do something that has meaning to me.  I can look back on any given day in my kids life and tell you exactly what we did based on the photo I took that day.  I'm able to see her physical and emotional growth, as well as her personality forming through photos through the years. 

Never did I think that on that night almost 5 years ago that reading a camera manual would turn into a lifelong passion, but it did. All it takes is the tiniest little spark to get you going. 

Now - a memo to myself on things I'd like to learn in the next 5 years. 

` Quit being so hard on yourself. I've gotten MUCH better about this - but I still have my moments.  I have on days and off days.  Not everyday is going to be amazing.  I need to accept it and move on. 

` Dare to be different.  I like doing my own thing, and hope to continue down that route.  I appreciate all sorts of artistic expressions and styles - but I want to continue to be me and continue to develop my own style and voice. 

` SPEND MUCH LESS TIME ON THE COMPUTER. I know I need a facebook hiatus. I just need to pull the plug and hopefully make more time for family and probably clean my house better. 

- If possible, find out Powerball numbers to multi million dollar jackpot.  Hey, you never know.