Monday, January 17, 2011

The First Roads of My Photography Journey

Photographs, in my opinion, are the best way to capture memories…growing up, my family always used slides and pictures to document trips, etc and then to reminisce about the fun times we had.  So when Randy and I made the decision 18 months ago to have me leave my full time position in the corporate world to begin my journey as a Stay-at-Home/Work-at-Home Mom (SAHM/WAHM), I turned to what has continuously brought me comfort...the camera and the magic it creates. 

Randy and I were keeping digital scrapbooks of "The Boy" and "The Divine Miss M", so naturally I figured there was no better way to get comfortable behind the lens again than to chronicle the development of "The Baby".  As I began my new photography journey, Randy suggested that I stretch myself by switching to shooting in "manual" mode which means I control the camera's aperture, shutter speed and ISO in the hopes of capturing high quality images. 

The first 4 - 5 months, I was enjoying my "extended maternity leave" and really liked the images and moments I was capturing of "The Baby".  I felt so confident about some of my photos that I began entering local photography group competitions, as well as online amateur and serious hobbyist contests.  And, as some of you may remember, actually placed in a few.

By the time Christmas and New Years came around, my photography journey took a strange turn.  Although I found pleasure in the photography those first months, it began to feel weird not having a regular destination to go to after I dropped the kids off at school each day, and started to resent those that did.  My negativity began presenting itself in my images and I started questioning whether anyone in the field of photography, including Randy, would ever view them as anything but "snapshots".  I even began comparing my pictures to other photographers work, even Randy's - BIG MISTAKE!  They all have several more years of experience and boatloads more shutter clicks on their resumes.  Basically I was comparing apples to oranges and driving myself crazy in the process!

I needed to find a way to get creative and positive about my photos again and stop my downward spiral.  Then I read about "365 Projects"...this is when photographers take a picture, any picture, every day for an entire year.  This could be my savior!  This would be my own personal challenge to achieve my goal - to move my images into the "professional" world of photography.  I figured if I produced 365 images (by pushing the shutter WAY more times than that to achieve the end results), in a 12 month period, I would by default begin honing my skills; and so, I began my 365 Project on January 1, 2010.  As the year progressed, I gave myself special themes to focus on during some months to keep the work fresh and interesting. One month all monochrome finished, another month playing with different light sources, another one pink for breast cancer, and so on.  Here's a sample from each month this past year:

As I continued on my photography journey with my 365 Project, I learned to take my pictures for me and not to compare them to anyone else I've met along the way.  I expanded my horizons and started photographing subjects and scenes that I wouldn't have looked at before.  I experimented with post-processing techniques that even Randy hadn't tried; I developed a critical but objective eye when assessing my work as well as the work of other photographers.  I found a new respect for the opinions of other photographers in relation to my work, but no longer feel the need for their approval (except Randy - those of you who know me well, know I'll always want/need his approval).  My photography journey is enjoyable once again as a direct result of my 365 Project.

As we begin 2011, I have chosen a few new challenges, and am looking forward to working towards them.  If you're interested in walking the road with me and following my progress, stay tuned to upcoming posts and I'll share my new challenges as I take them on.