August 19, 2015

WHAT I'VE LEARNED AFTER 6 YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Sometimes I forget how long I've been doing this photography thing. I forget how many years it's been, how things have changed, and what I have learned. Do you want to know a secret? Nothing about photography has ever felt easy to me. When I began I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark. It. was. hard. I looked around at others feeling like they were picking it up so much easier then I was... and maybe they were. I didn't know it then, but I've learned that if I want to do this photography thing, I'm going to have to fight for it.

I didn't go to school for photography. I've taken classes, but my degrees isn't in photography. My last semester of college I took my first class. The class was full and each of us were starting at different skill levels. Some were well versed in photography and others like myself were getting started. I appreciated my instructor because to him we were all the same and he was going to teach us all the same too. That class gave me a foundation to get off the round.
I actually sat last week talking with Tyler about where I was in my photography journey and that's when I started thinking about what I have learned and were I want to go.

GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
One thing that I have learned over everything else that I think is most important is to give yourself grace. The night that Tyler and I talked about my photography journey I wondered why I hadn't grown more and then I looked back on my journey. I forgot about how much my life changed through my journey. I started photography, but then I moved to Florida, where I lived for a year. Then I moved back to Missouri, where I lived for a year and a half, then I moved to California, where I lived for two and a half years. And now I'm in New York. Moving around a lot requires a lot from a person and learning photography wasn't always a priority. It was something I was always pursuing, but, gracious, I needed to give myself some grace. Even though I hadn't learned everything I had wanted to learn in my six years, I had been on lots of adventures. I had been through lots of struggles and I needed to remember that. Friends, give yourself lots of grace, we all need it. 

WITHOUT PRACTICE, THINGS GET RUSTY
In 2012 I did a anniversary shoot. For me, it was one of the best shoots I had ever done. I had grown a lot as a photographer and I was finally finding my groove. I was finally producing photos that I always had hoped for.  Right after that shoot, I hang up my camera and didn't pick it up for a year. Looking back on that moment I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I just hung up my camera. But the other thing that happened that year was that I got married and moved to California. Everything was new and I was doing everything I could to just figure out life. I didn't pick up my camera again until 2013, a year later, and boy was I rusty. I felt like I was starting all over again. It was hard and I was discouraged. I didn't understand why I couldn't pick up right were I left off. But photography like any other art form requires practice. When we put down our cameras it's just like putting down our paint brush. Things get rusty when we don't keep practicing them.  
YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT
Art and photography will always be changing. It's our job to keep educating ourselves, and friends, that is so hard sometimes. Technology will advance, styles will change, and imagery will continue to excel. We must continue to fight to master our craft as photographers. I know that if I want to get better as a photographer then I have to keep finding ways to educate myself. Whether that's taking a class, reading a book, practicing in the field, and getting a mentor. We must continue to educate ourselves. We must continue to be hungry to learn and to fight to be better.

FIND FRIENDS
During my first few years of photography I focused on shooting portraits. Nearly everyone that graced the front of my camera was a good friend of mine. I did couples shoots, I did family shoots, I did senior portraits, I did maternity shoots. I asked every single person I knew if I could take there picture.  Find friends that will allow you to take their picture. One of my closest friends used to go out on shoots with me all the time. I was always so grateful for those friends who let me take their picture. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have had anyone to practice on and I wouldn't have made it as far as I did. Keep in mind that even after you feel like you have grown in your skill and are working steadily with clients, you will still always needs those friends to practice on. Friends are the ones who you can always ask to photograph for a crazy idea you may have.   

KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENT
Your camera can do a lot. And really it's simply a tool for you to use. Your camera is your paintbrush and you are the artist. Friends, I secretly wish I could pick up my camera and instantly know everything about it. I wish I could know what every button does and I wish I knew exactly how to create the picture perfect image without blinking. But, that's just not the case. Don't let you camera hold you back, because I've been there, and it sucks so bad. Learn your camera and all the other gear you have. Don't miss out on pictures or opportunities simply because you didn't know something about your camera or because you weren't well versed in your other equipment. Read your camera manual, experiment with all the different settings on your camera, learn everything there is to know about your camera. 

Six years in and I still feel like I have a long journey of learning ahead of me. But that's what we should be hoping for right? Hoping for something that will continue to challenge and stretch us. Something that will push us to do that which we can not do.

How has your photography journey been progressing? What have you learned so far?

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