A little over a year ago I woke up one morning knowing what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed so obvious..and it came out of nowhere. I’m pretty sure God knew that morning I would be listening and thought, “Ok, it’s time to tell her.” (God and I are close like that) He knows that it takes time for me to accept something so He gives me hints over time and then BAM..it hits me and I’m all for it.
This beautiful fall morning I was full of excitement. I was going to be a photographer. I mean, I was always the girl with the camera attached to her anyways. The girl that, according to my friends, was relied on to take their next good profile pic. I loved photoshop and making photos a little more wild. I would spend hours editing my photos before putting them on facebook..why couldn’t I do this for real? I started the way many photographers do, I saw tons of other people starting their own business, so I figured I would try it too.
My husband was immediately on board and was so happy for me. I had been really struggling with what to study at USU after transferring from BYU-I and finding out..I really couldn’t study anything I wanted to. Bummer. Life of a transfer student I guess. But this was it! Luckily for me, living in a town where getting married is the cool pass-time, I had booked sessions before I even owned my own camera. (Kind of ridiculous) I quickly got my own camera in the mail and started tagging along with any photographer who would let me, and anyone who would let me take their photo.
I was frustrated in the beginning with how hard it was to master this camera business. I had only owned a point and shoot before this so this DSLR was wack. (Sorry I am listening to Eminem as I type.) So as I got better I began to gain more and more confidence. I was like Hey, I’m not too bad at this right? (Eh..I was ok.) In the words of my own sweet wedding photographer, I had the artistic eye..which was a nice way to say I sucked but I had some promise. I’m pretty sure my work looked like every other newbie photographers and really, there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Luckily for me, instad of platoing with unrealistic confidence..I was shoved into a make it or break it moment early on.
One night while checking my blog I found a comment someone had sent me about my photography. It began about them telling me they had found my stuff on facebook. I thought cool, someone actually has discovered me randomly online! But nope..this wasn’t to tell me they loved my work. It was to rip it to shreds. Instead of being devastated by this paragraph of hate, I sat there and took it all in. Yes this girl was really angry, (I’m pretty sure I actually know this girl but she changed her name so I’m not 100% sure) and I had no clue why she wanted to try to ruin my day, but there was more to this then just hate..there was some honesty. Most people are too afraid to tell you what you’re doing wrong. My Graphic Design teacher taught us to be brutally honest because it wasn’t personal, it was just art. He taught me to have a thick skin when it came to my own work. (He even made us rip up a project we did minutes after we had them hung on the walls to teach us this..I was ticked.) Most photographers I asked for feedback from were pretty vague and basically just gave me a pat on the back. This girl ripped me apart from my angles to my style and of course, my instagram filter styled editing. At this point I had no idea how bad my editing was.
That night something inside me changed..she was right. I needed to do better. She predicted that I would be popular among friends and family in the beginning but then just kind of die off like every other photographer like me in the Utah area. She said that NYC photographers wouldn’t dream of doing the kind of photos I was taking. (In my defense I had been doing DSLR photography for only a couple months at that point so yes, they probably wouldn’t be like me) But she was right. I needed to step up my game. I needed to hunker down and take this seriously or it would just become a nice hobby I gave up on like everything else (drums, piano, guitar).
I saved up my money and bought a 50mm lens. I studied books, blogs, magazines, youtube videos, online instructive videos, editing workshops..everything I could get my hands on. I practiced as much as I could. (I wish my husband was more cooperative to practice on) Something stirred inside me. This girl motivated me to become better than I would have been just cruising along. I had something to prove..not to her, but to myself.
I set goals. I critiqued every shoot. I studied the online pros and the magazine pros. I studied light and form and positioning. I studied business and advertising and marketing strategies. I pushed myself.
So here I am. A year later thanking that girl for taking the time to shake me up. I have loved this past year! Photography has become a huge part of my life. Although I have a LONG ways to go, I feel like I have come so far. I am proud of my last year’s growth and struggles. I have been proud of myself and also had times where I knew I could do better. I have learned from many many MANY mistakes. But every time I shoot I get a little bit better, and I’m still enjoying it.
I have found that one of my favorite things about photography, is giving someone a chance to see how beautiful they really are.
So thanks again, you have no idea how much your words helped me. But maybe next time you give advice to someone, be a little less condescending. I’m sure you were just going for the more Gordon Ramsey approach.
It’s cool. No hard feelings.