THREE YEARS | CHEERS TO PROGRESS
August 11th marked three years since I photographed my first (and completely solo) wedding! The time has flown by and looking back I can't believe how much progress I've personally made with my craft, client relations, post processing - EVERYTHING. Time and practice (and more practice!) really works as long as you stick with it.
In today's post, I'm revealing the huge comparison of what three years of progress looks like, reminiscing about some of rookie mistakes early on, and showing some behind the scenes shots!
Let's talk RING SHOTS. These are essential for any bride & groom - you have to photograph that rock! This above image is from my very first couple and was taken with my Nikon D5000 and a standard 18-200mm lens. I also had a super generic on camera flash and that was my entire set up. Right off the bat I think "Geez! What was I thinking?!" But the simple truth is, I was SO green, that I was working with what I could - both in knowledge and equipment. I had a concept in my head and was determined to execute it on camera.
See the progress? Pretty crazy right? Each one of these rings is beautiful (all square cuts!) and learning how to make the most important piece of jewelry pop is key! I learned that a busy background isn't where its at, the priority is to isolate the rings alone so that your focus is on the ring, and the ring alone.
I want to revisit this entire subject and break down post by post some various but super important lessons I've learned, but for today, these are the biggest lessons I HAD to learn to get me where I am today.
1. SHOOT THE RIGHT FORMAT (RAW).
RAW is a file format that is completely straight from the camera. JPEG is something I shot in for the first five or so events in my first year. Its all good for personal photos, something quick on vacation, but legit professional images this is a big mistake. I know some photographer friends are thinking "NO! NO! NO!", and trust me I'm right there with 'em now! I didn't fully understand until I went home and tried to edit a JPEG. It is absolute torture. RAW gives you the opportunity to clear up color, shadow, overall exposure and contrast - you name it - so that the photograph can be properly edited. I rarely ever shoot in anything but RAW now, with the shirt to prove it.
2. ITS NOT THE GEAR, ITS THE PHOTOGRAPHER.
When I really started to pick up momentum photographing regularly I used to beat myself up about what equipment I had. Yes, I could rent but that was taking funds away from owning the gear. Yes, the gear I had could get the job done but I had high expectations and had to be patient. And while being patient, I practiced the heck out of what I had and mastered it. The light bulb goes off - I could achieve nearly any shot I really wanted and the camera didn't do that, I did. I love those quotes about how photographers rarely ever have all the gear they ever want/need. Technology moves fast and in turn, the pros have to as well. But if you invest in a specific lens to know it backwards, forwards, left, right, you start to build your craft. The paint doesn't make the picture, the artist does.
3. RESEARCH, PRACTICE, REPEAT.
Being a photographer may seem super glamorous, but its a ton of work just like any other profession. There are a plethora of hats you have to wear each day and when you're just beginning you can take a lot of different paths. Biggest advice - BE SMART. I had people who told me to jump into business before I was ready - like not even CLOSE ready. People believed more in my talent than I did, but they weren't the ones taking the risk. I wanted to be smart about my launch, my look, my audience so I didn't have to go back and make up for it later. When you take the time to make the best, not the easiest, decisions your business thrives from that. Your confidence builds and money can't buy that.
4. DON'T GO IT ALONE.
I'm an independent person by default so when starting my business I was willing to take on this immense challenge entirely alone. Boy, was I WRONG. Comparing local pricing to form my own, where do I go for my website, getting registered with the state, even learning the right lighting - I took this all on myself. I followed seasoned photographers to help beginners, especially in the Wedding Industry. Then it was joining groups online to ask questions, reading blogs (and there are thousands!), watching Youtube tutorials, etc. I needed more than to look at photos from other professionals continuously, I had to test myself. I had to reach out for help. I learned a lot by teaching other friends about cameras or posing. I've learned from meeting with other professionals and just talking shop. Case in point, Natalie Franke Hayes has been incredibly supportive and understanding when I decided to get serious in December last year. Girl chat over Starbucks coffee, she reignited my initial excitement to become a photographer. I realized that even though I didn't intern under another photographer, even though I didn't have tons of gear to experiment with, I could still make it. I can not believe I waited so long to network, befriend and learn from people doing the same thing I was - living their dream.
So to sum up -
1. I haven't mastered the hair-down-photographer look just yet.
2. I morph into some sort of circus lady with my stances to get the right angle.
3. I smile when I shoot, because I love what I do. :)