A personal post – Then & Now, a 3 month look back

This is my first truly personal post. It takes a lot of courage to put some of your inner most thoughts out in public. However, it also takes a lot of courage to be self critical in a way to help yourself grow. This post will serve as both…for me.

As you may know, I took a chance on an unknown dream a little over 3 months ago. This unknown dream became more of a reality when my husband put my second DSLR – a Canon 70D – in my hand for my 31st birthday. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he had encouraged and nurtured a dream that was buried deep in my inner soul. He unlocked it and made me ponder reality.

The wheels started turning…
You see so many people pop up with DSLRs these days. With the cost of technology ever decreasing and becoming more affordable to everyone, it isn’t hard to put your hands on a decent camera without breaking the bank. Armed with a new DSLR, I begin snapping photos of EVERYTHING that I could. The dog. My husband. The coffee table. The yard. The dog in the yard. (You get the picture.) Then, I happened to stumble upon a local photographer (Kristine Pringle) that was offering a workshop for those interested in learning how to get out of automatic mode and into manual mode on their DSLRs. I signed up for it. And….I. WAS. HOOKED.

How the hook got the line and sinker
For me, when I get hooked on something, it doesn’t fade. In fact, often times it progressively gets stronger and even more desirable. The work shop open the door all that way that my husband had just propped open. I felt excited, alive, and anxious to take pictures, make memories, capture moments whenever I could. It was like a drug. (Who am I kidding? It still is a drug!) The hook wound up with the line and sinker after I had coerced asked some willing victims friends to let me try my new found tips and skills out on them. Low and behold my first session wound up being an engagement shoot. The photo shoot was fun – they were great sports. And it turned out to be pretty easy sine they’re both friends. But they helped the photomonster inside me grow….thus giving the hook the line and sinker it needed.

That one moment…
There is a moment when you’re shooting pictures that you know, you just know, that you have taken one of the most amazing shots of your life. It could be on purpose or it could be a complete accident. Well that happened to me while shooting Tyler and Justin’s engagement at Williamsburg Winery. I got the most amazing picture I had taken in my life. I took a reflection shot that just wowed me in the camera. When I looked at it on a bigger screen, I fell in love with it even more. That AHA moment and feeling doesn’t ever fade. That moment is also what continues to drive me today.

Where I am now…versus then…
So this takes me to where I am now versus where I was just 3 months ago. To me, the change is dramatic. I’ve gotten better at the composition (framing the scene). I’ve improved on my settings in manual so I’m not over or underexposing the image too much. I’ve been able to create more of that background blur when I want to but also keep the entire image in focus as well. In short, I’ve practiced. A lot. And – from my incredibly critical point of view – the practice has started to show that I can do this. That my dream can indeed become a reality.

I am more confident in my abilities. I’ve posted all my work on public pages on Facebook for critiques and the feedback has been positive. I’ve shared my images with local businesses that are somehow part of the image and have received glowing, warm remarks. I’ve had glowing reviews from several of the couples I’ve been lucky enough to photograph. My Facebook Page is up to 144 likes (of those, only 123 are my Facebook friends!). My blog continues to get traffic and views. And, lastly, the images themselves speak to the strides I’ve made. Take a look! You’ll see…I’m getting better and there is only room for more improvement! I can’t wait to see my progress over the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. I can’t wait to see where I will be in March 2015 with this amazing journey I’m embarking on.

Drum roll please….now for your viewing pleasure: A few pictures to share with you my “then” and “now”. These are what I perceive to be some of my best photos from the last 3 months. We’ll start with the first few I ever took once I embarked on this journey.

Then!

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I should probably let you know that there isn’t anything wrong with these photos. However, I can see that they’re from the beginning of my journey. I can – from a constructive perspective – find various parts of the composition, sharpness, angle, lighting, etc. that I will pick apart now and look to improve. And, that’s the beauty of this journey – real time feedback and criticism will only make me better.

Now!

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These are better. They’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am feeling a lot better about these as a whole. I feel like I’ve been able to find better compositions, get my lighting better, and truly take a photograph that looks like a professional took it. I am pleased with the progress I see.

This is my 3 month critique. I’ll tell you – I can’t wait to see how I feel about a comparison to my beginning shots and 6 month shots! I’m willing to say that I will continue to improve and feel better and better about my progress.

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