Wednesday, 6 April 2016

My Photography Journey

We all have to start somewhere, and today I am showing you exactly what that "somewhere" looked like for me and photography. Expect a walk through memory lane, featuring painful mistakes and the story of how I fell for photos... It's going to be nostalgic/painful/hilarious/hopefully useful!


I got into snapping pictures, artsy style, quite a bit later than most folks I've come across online. I had no appreciation for anything photography related until I was in my third year at university; I saw myself as someone who was more of a reader and writer rather than someone who is visually creative. Though I loved art as a kid, I dropped it at GCSE because it wasn't seen as "serious enough"... Cue a major eye roll.

This meant that I came to photography as a complete and utter noob; composition was a word I only understood as a grammatic term (I am a linguist after all). I used to steal the family camera purely to take pictures of literally anything. My first Canon point and shoot was purchased solely so I could take "funny" pictures of uni life for Facebook.


I'm not sure when I began taking photos with creative rather than comedic content, but the most concrete moment I can remember was buying my DSLR in my third year of uni. Prior to its purchase I still hadn't been bitten by the photography bug, and instead decided to make the most of my first year earning regular wages by treating myself to a Canon 600D... the blogger/vlogger's weapon of choice at the time. The plan was to use my new toy and my free time as a lonely English assistant in France to make YouTube videos... Easily one of my finer decisions to date, for the record.

Upon buying it, I knew nada about even the basics of photography; exposure was a word I'd only seen coupled with the adjective "indecent". This remained the case even when fluke landed me my first photography job; as I told you in this post my old workplace needed a product photographer and the fact I owned a DSLR was seen as qualification enough. Looking back now, it most certainly wasn't; it took me months before I'd trained my eye adequately, figuring out the sometimes impossible task of making clothing appear perfect on camera.

I spent about five months learning the ropes. At first there were nights I'd come home in tears, frustrated with how slowly I was learning, embarrassed by how poor my shots would come out. I wish I could show you my first week's photos now; thankfully they've long been deleted from our site. My point here is that I wasn't a natural. I didn't pick up the camera and work by instinct; I had to put in the time and the effort, getting imaginative with faking symmetry and carrying on even when I hated what I was producing.


This time period was also when I started my Instagram account and this helped me get the photography bug. Initially I never put pressure on myself to improve; it was nice to just post literally anything and anything, the woeful results of which can still be found in the backlog of my Insta account. Thankfully though it helped me remember that I did love taking pictures, and gradually I resolved to get learning and start taking photos more seriously.

But back to my photography job; by the end of my summer I was ready to go back to uni, but I'd learned through weeks spent floundering and then swimming in the deep end. What had once been way out of my comfort zone grew to feel completely natural. After a few weeks spent training the lovely girl who would replace me, our boss pulled us aside at one point to tell us we needed to stop obsessing over the details and just speed up. "You know how to do it girls - heck, you're correcting things that even the camera doesn't see," he said. It was a real high, let me tell you.

I headed back to my last year at uni and spent most of my spare time working on my photography. I spent hours poring over pictures on Flickr and Instagram, and used all the online resources I could find to learn the basics of exposure, composition and editing (not just for those in the literary business, I would find!) In November 2014 I started my Project365, and while I now look at even the later snaps and cringe, it is still something I am so proud to have achieved.

I also purchased Maud, my first child and only film camera. She's a Canon AE-1 and a total babe. The process of wanting to make each and every shot worth the money it cost really helped hone my eye. I would never say that buying a film camera is an essential, but if you love photography it is something to consider. (I've even written about my love for film here, if you are keen.)


Since finishing uni, I learned to fall for golden hour; that the weeks during late September and early October form my favourite time to take photos; that the iPhone camera is a total game-changer and that it is best to share only the shots that you are 100% in love with.

And then we come at last to more recent times... I am back to shooting as part of my job, loving it to pieces and still working on my greatly improved time efficiency. I was also hired to be a girls' camp photographer this summer and I am so excited for what it will bring.

While I like my photos far more than ever before, I still have so many things I'd love to improve: I rarely take pictures of people as I just feel so uncomfortable about it; I sometimes feel my shots look neat but lack soul; I still feel like I need to put in more time towards messing about with a camera and experimenting.

Hopefully, however, my story shows that it is possible to learn a skill no matter where you start. I don't care about being the best photographer; I care about improving on what I have learned and keeping going for as long as I love taking photos.

Thank you so, so much for sticking with me on this one... I really appreciate it! My fellow photography nerds: what was your journey like? I would love to hear in the comments - and if you're interested, my Instagram is linked here!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...