Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jumping In With Both Feet

I recently wrote a post about my 3 major inspirations, regarding the subject of photography.
And now I want to talk about some important things I've learned along the way so far.

The "butt kicking" learning began when I had my first "payed" photo session a few months back.
I lacked total confidence in myself at the time, and told the client I would do it for free, but she genuinely and lovingly insisted on paying me something. So I excitedly, yet reluctantly agreed.

The session was with three beautiful kids.
The shoot went very well and on that sweltering hot summer day.

I learned the most important lesson I would learn along the way
 thus far in my life on the subject of photography.

 I learned that I was indubitably in love with photography!

I loved doing the session.
I loved every hot, sticky, sweaty minute of it.
It was like a sweet joy to my soul to do the shoot on that day!
And then I got home and gently slipped the memory card
 into my laptop and opened the photos up into Adobe Lightroom.
The joy dissipated slowly as I struggled through using it.
I had NO IDEA how to use it.
I opened up my CS5, took one look and thought, "OH NO! WHAT NOW?"

Before the session I had only used a very simple "photoshop" program
 that I had received years ago with my very first digital camera, a Kodak Easyshare.

I stumbled through the process.
 I'm certain I did everything the hard way.
Because I tend to do that sometimes.

Work flow???
I had never even heard those two terms put together before,
And I certainly had no "flow".

But I made it through and completed the task... a week later!

I copied the images to CD and mailed them to the clients with fingers crossed and breath held.
When I got word from the client that she was happy,
I let out a sigh of relief and could breathe normally again.
But I knew I needed to learn a whole lot more.

Excuse my random placement of memory...
I suddenly remembered my very first session ever.
This was prior to the one above.

I had to include this lesson because I think every photographer
 faces this at some point in their career.

It was a senior photo shoot.
It was for a family member, so I let this challenge slide.
Hey... It's my loving family.
But I did learn another very important lesson, nevertheless.
On one of the photos I had posted to facebook for a sneak peek.
The photo was copied and altered for, I have no idea what reason,
except that maybe this person thought it looked "cool".
But the copy that was altered was then placed on FB with my watermark still on it.
Urghhhh! Talk about frustration.
Only problem was, I would NEVER, EVER
approve of a picture with changes like that done to it.
And even worse, people probably connect my name to that photo to this day.
Many people don't realize that this kind of alteration is not only legally wrong,
but also disrespectful to the work of the photographer.
So, I now include a written/signed statement with each session saying that
 this sort of alteration and public display of images with out photographer credit is not allowed.

Sound mean and ruthless???

It's important if you care about your image as an artist.
And I do.
I may not be the best photographer in the world, but it's still my art.
And I care about it, worked hard on it, and want it to be it's best.
Making sure the watermark goes through or touches the head or chin
 of the subject is also a good way to make sure
the image isn't altered or copied for unlawful use.

The session that caused me the most grief was a family session
that I had had scheduled for a beautiful summer day.
It was a Saturday.
At a location I had used before.
I can't even bare to retell the story.
You can read about it here.

It was after this incident, that I realized I really needed a backup camera.
I went through an ordeal with the company that
 I had purchased the additional accidental warranty through.
And though it was a messy and confusing ordeal, they did get me that refund.

Once I received that refund,
 I purchased the same camera, buying the same additional warranty.
Because it was worth it to me!
(And because I tend to be accidental.. oops.)
During my time with out a camera I had clients asking for sessions,
 so I had to rent a camera.
Luckily, I found a great company to do that through!
I had a fantastic experience with them and would use them again in a heart beat!

During my rental period, I did my first wedding session.
I enjoyed every minute of it.
But oh the things I learned from this session.
I can't even begin to tell you all the important things that I learned.

The first thing is, as an artist, take on boldness and belief in yourself
 to do the thing you know is probably going to be best for each image.
I am talking about, gut instinct here.
What perspective will be best for each photo.

 Being uninhibited!

Where is the best location for me to be,
as the photographer, to get the best image possible.

I was told that day, by the notary public,
who was extremely nice, to stand in a certain location.
The location and layout of everything was totally new to me.
But, as the ceremony began to unfold,
I realized I was definitely not in the best place as the photographer.

By this time it was too late to move, because the ceremony was on a bridge.
 And the only way to get to the other side was to either cross the bridge,
 which the wedding party was now blocking and standing on,
or to get there by crossing the river.
 Which was out of the question in those heels I was wearing!
 Not to mention my last experience with Bridges and Water...
not good my friend, not good.

Another great lesson I learned during the wedding shoot was,
to make sure I find out from the client just exactly how the ceremony will unfold.
A very important thing to know!
I needed details that I failed to get.
And I can blame no one but my self for not eliciting all the details from the client.
But I was pleased with the overall results of the images when it was all said and done.

Another thing I am enjoying learning so far
 is eliciting the best emotion possible for each image.

This is not always an easy thing to do.

One of the reasons I love to photograph children so well is that
they have no pretenses in the way of who they are.
They just are who they are, and they don't worry so much
 about how they look or if their hair is perfect or if they look fat or skinny...
blah, blah, blah.

All those little details that don't really matter in the end.
At least not to me.
Because my goal is to capture an emotion.
Not a fake shot of what someone wishes they looked like,
 but an image of who they really are.

The heart and soul of the subject.

Unless, of course, it's a picture of myself.
Then I'm just really picky!

Everyone wants to look beautiful! Yes???

Now here's what I learned during my first newborn session:

Take risks.
 And don't be afraid to take chances with the unknown.

I don't like to be the person who wishes she had done things differently
 but I'm afraid in this case, I am that person.
I admire baby photographers so much for their patience and braveness.

Baby photography is very special because this moment is quickly fleeting.
 A baby only has an umbilical cord for so long,
and all those sweet newborn features a baby has only lasts for a very short period of time.
And if you don't capture those moments right then,
you probably never will have the opportunity to again.
It's a sad thought indeed to know that I thought about doing something, but didn't because of fear.
With my own babies I had no fears, but with someone else's, well, that's a different story.
I learned a ton of valuable things from that session.
I am haunted by them still.

I am sharing these things with you because,
I hope when I look back on this entry someday and I can laugh and smile,
knowing that I've grown by leaps and bounds.

Maybe you are thinking, "Geez, get a load of this girl... What a dummy!"

If so, you are probably right, I was a dummy.
But "I ain't no dummy no more"!

Learning from others mistakes are often the very best way to learn.

Others have paved the path before us for good reason.
My heart is filled with overflowing joy if God can use me
 to help someone else along the way.

Learn from the mistakes of others.
You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

 ~Eleanor Roosevelt


  1. How on earth did I miss all of this?! I've been so scared to ask if you were charging or portfolio building right now and now that you posted this, I want to know EVERYTHING! I know I'm not at your skill level, but this is where I want to end up (in the far, far future). I want to move on to portfolio building and have a business someday and if you're willing to share the process, I want to soak up every detail!

    Your snake story horrified me and your courage in taking on (and rocking!) a wedding inspired me! I seriously wish I knew you in real life, because you are everything I want to be - a strong Christian, loving wife, caring and wise mother, AND an incredible photographer!

  2. Thanks Becky!!! But I could never be who I am or do what I do today without God and all my loved ones who have helped me and believed in me along the way! In fact with out God I probably wouldn't be here today... But that's a long story!

    Girl, I don't know what you mean by "I'm not at your skill level..." You are a fantastic photographer! You probably know as much if not more about photography as I do.

    God sort of sent all of these wonderful clients my way. I did none of it on my own. My trust is totally in Him.

    But I do have a few "words of wisdom" for you and plan on talking with you about photography more later... I am totally self taught. I have never taken classes. I read books, magazines, and photog blogs as often as possible. *Always keep learning! And I think another important thing is "people skills". *Being relateable and friendly will draw others to you! There are several books I want to refer you too when I have time... But the kids are bugging me to take them to the pool, so I will talk to you more again soon! You can e-mail anytime you want to...Here is my personal e-mail address: Looking forward to talking...

  3. You are awesome and I think your work is first rate. I'll be back to pick your brain. I hope you have a great eevening. Blessings...Mary

  4. You are a great photographer and all your sessions were wonderful..... learning is the best part of it all, i think! :0)

  5. I look forward as a fellow photographer to exchanging ideas and different techniques. Your photos are fantastic. I understand your frustrations in regard to watermarks on your work. I'm worried that someones going to try and alter one of my photos!


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