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FAQ #1: How long have you been in the photography business?

I decided to do a series of posts where I can feature some Frequently Asked Questions from my FAQ Page and any others I come up with along the way. The first one is:

“How long have you been a photographer? I started taking pictures artistically in 2009; after a year of honing my skill, shooting for free, and deciding if I wanted to try to become a pro, I started to build by professional portfolio and take on clients. Good decision :)”

Now time to elaborate on that, I suppose.

People have often asked me HOW SPECIFICALLY I decided to become a photographer; how did it happen? To be honest, I wonder myself sometimes why I decided to start. I think an important facet of my journey is that I didn’t start out to “become” a pro photographer. Over time, I just realized I really liked taking pictures with my mom’s camera of my nieces and nephews, and of nature around me. Her camera was a dinky little point and shoot that had a “X10 ZOOM” feature of some sort. But it was capable enough to show me I liked making art.

Early in 2009 I took a few photos of landscapes, farm equipment, and horses at my Grandma’s house in Idaho while on a trip there. I found I really liked trying to make certain aspects pop by editing them with Picasa or Photoshop Elements.

Don’t ask me how I got to the next step of asking people I knew to model for me, because I honestly couldn’t tell you :) I did though. In the fall of 2009 I asked around on Facebook if anyone wanted to have some fun and just take some pictures with me. Two of my friends modeled for me and I felt super artsy.

 

My husband surprised me with a completely out of our budget entry-level DSLR (Canon Rebel XS, YEAH!) for my birthday in February 2010. And over the next year I continued to ask family and friends to do sessions with me so I could practice. I did couples, high school seniors, families, kids, and maternity pictures; I somehow even got two sets of couples to pay me to photograph their weddings, and a handful of people who wanted to pay me for my time later in 2010.

That first year of putting myself out there, extending myself beyond where I was comfortable with people (strangers and friends), was life-changing for me. It showed me where I sucked, where I could excel, and what I was capable of if I stopped feeling awkward. I had a bit of natural talent at composition, but my skill level with the camera was mediocre at best. I loved doing color selections in Photoshop, adding sunflare, and asking my clients to pose in super awkward ways; I copied fellow photographers, made horrendous mistakes during sessions, under exposed, over exposed, and missed crucial moments. I over-processed all my images, and wasn’t sure what MY STYLE was.

It was wonderful :)

I just went for it.

I didn’t care that I sucked. I knew it, but I just accepted it as part of the learning curve and focused on my successes. With each session I did, I remember feeling like I just wanted to do more. There was always at least one picture from each session that really felt like it was MINE – that it was what I wanted to do. And with each new session, I got closer and closer actually pulling off what I was going for.

I highly recommend just going for it, if anyone is interested in anything at all. It can take you lots of places :)

I will be forever grateful to all the friends, family, and strangers who trusted me during those first couple of years. Your support and blind devotion was more encouraging than I was ever able to voice at the time.

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