Let’s talk about growth. Since it is spring and the trees are sprouting and the world we live in is slowly coming back to life. The birds and critters are out and about, and I feel like I’ve been coming out of hibernation. Even though this Iowa winter has been very mild, I still burrow in my cave and wait for sunlight.
Anyway, how did I get to where I am? Did I go to college for photography? Nope! Did I shadow a professional photographer and learn their tricks? Nope! Did I go to workshops to perfect my skills? Nope, even though I am planning on attending some in the near future.
So let’s start with my first ever family shoot. I had literally just bought my first DSLR Nikon 3200, and thought I was the bee’s knees. I was not, let me assure you. I had talked to a “real photographer” friend of mine and asked her “How do you get such a blurry background in your photos?”
Obviously I had no idea about aperture, bokeh, focusing, or anything really. I just thought it would all come together. She taught me about the 50MM prime lens and how she used hers religiously. So I went and bought one, and immediately I was amazed! So fast forward to a work friend and his family, letting me take their family photos!
Ok well first off, I loved this location. It was where I went to clear my head after a long day, and a nice long run. This lighting was amazing and to this day I am proud of how well they turned out. I did not have photoshop I used the editor that came with my computer and this was the beginning. Looking back now, I know how much I really had to learn before I really was “ready”. So over the next few months I took pictures of anything I could.
I went to visit my sister and her family in Iowa, when my nephew was born. While I was there, I got to see my first rodeo. I had my camera with me, and took a couple shots. My first action shots! Whoa!
And of course I took some photos of my nephew Gunnison.
(Look at that posing, or lack there of!) I still love it! How cuteee!
Then a friend of mine volunteered to do some test shots for me!
Can you tell I had absolutely NO idea what style I wanted to shoot in? I had no idea what drove me as a photographer.
Eventually I moved to Iowa because hello, cute little nephew? This was my first attempt at a backdrop, indoor photo.
This was a literall curtain that hangs on windows and a little gift box my sister wrapped.
Apparently I was all about the pastel editing (still no photoshop).
And pretty soon I had people wanting me to take their photos. Still for free, because let’s be honest, I still had no idea what I was doing. With every shot I prayed that it would look ok. Hopefully in focus, and exposed alright.
I lucked into this light one night, and was amazed at myself! I had seen some photos on pinterest with backlighting like this and I had to try it. I was hooked. I couldn’t believe I was making my pictures comparable to those I pinned on my boards.
At that early point in my career, I thought to myself. “Maybe this is easier than I thought.”
I’d like to say that it was easy to learn photography. It was definitely a challenge. One that costs me a LOT of money, a lot of hours of research, and video tutorials as well as taking 1000 pictures of my dog, Jack.
Eventually I started charging $50 for a session, with no time limits or rules. I had many people start to put their trust in me, after all $50 is like a trip to the movies anymore right? So There I was selling my soul and getting much needed experience.
Don’t worry I made my family members model for me every chance I got. And guess who decided to get Photoshop!
(My mother and my nephew Gunnison)
(My brother and his wonderful girlfriend Lindsey)
BUT GUESS WHO HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE DOING ON PHOTOSHOP???
You guessed it. Me! I watched hundreds of hours of videos about photoshop. I cried and laughed and cried some more. As you will begin to see I learned to love photoshop, and love it a little too much. I loved to over-edit! But hey I was still finding my style.
(My sister Samantha)
Mind you, I still was shooting with my Best Buy D3200. Eventually I realized that I couldn’t achieve what I wanted with this camera. So I did some research and found myself buying a $2000 used camera off line. When It came in the mail, I stared at this thing for days with no idea how to use it. It took me two days to get the language converted into English from Italian. The last owner must have been Italian.
Oh and if you haven’t noticed already, I was experimenting with watermarks, so I went through dozens of trials. Please forgive my inability to make a firm decision.
So now people who had worked with me before, started coming back. I was starting to get repeat clients, other than my family. Let’s take Kayci for example. We did her gender reveal, her maternity and her newborn photos for her daughter Sage. This is where it starts becoming apparent that I am struggling with posing (and still way over-editing).
Regardless, some shots turned out really great, in my opinion.
And some failed miserably!
And they were all over-edited.
I’m sorry, but this little girl was amazing in her tutu and tiara!
Then there were times where I felt great, I was creating my own ideas and themes and starting to feel more comfortable getting out of my comfort zone.
This little boy, Holden and his momma actually came to me for 3 or 4 sessions. And I loved getting to see him grow. I started to realize that my clients were becoming a part of what made me feel good. To see them more than once and get to have a small, and touching relationship.
Then my sister got pregnant again, and we did some maternity photos for her. And I loved these! I was so happy!
And I started to take more candid shots of my clients. Which is still my favorite!
Then my client base really started taking off and I could show 1000 pictures of my growth through the next year or two.
I was really starting to find confidence in my photos, although still struggling with posing, I always managed to find a few shots to love. My clients rallied around me and really made me feel great. I even had people start booking weddings with me. Which was surreal. I was so thankful, But don’t worry, I’ll do a whole blog post about weddings soon!
Eventually I realized what my editing style was, and to not over edit!
I felt like I knew what I wanted to do for each shoot, and how I needed to accomplish that. I was shooting in different modes and using light and simple editing tricks to give my clients a more realistic and romantic look (In my opinion).
Then I’m June 2016, 3 years since I picked up my first camera, I realized that every photographer named their business after their name, which is what I was doing. So I thought long and hard about my brand and who I was as a photographer and Wild Ones was born.
My first logo. Cute huh? I thought It was amazing! (facepalm).
I feel like once I named my company, It was on! Everything started to just fit better. I felt like a professional and I knew that I knew what I was doing.
I became less concerned with creating the perfect shot, and started making each shot into its on perfect moment.
Posing was not longer “Stand there and look at me and everyone smile” and was more “Hey grab onto mommas leg and tell her you love her”. Those were the moments that started speaking to me. Getting to capture a family and a persons true personality.
Do not get my wrong, I still struggle with posing from time to time, but its not because I don’t know what I want, It is because I want to make sure it captures you in the best way.
And some of my absolute favorite shots aren’t posed at all. They are real life! They were what really was happening at that moment, and I got to capture it for your memories for ever!
It wasn’t hey everyone look at me anymore, it was hey darling drop your left shoulder a little bit open, everyone drop your chin and bring your forehead down to the shoulder in front of you. It was more specific. I was able to make sure that everyone looked their best. I could see the shot for what it was meant to be.
I started experimenting with full sun, clouds and even wind.
And I couldn’t get enough.
I was asked to capture some of the most amazing events, and got to capture candid shots of some beautiful people.
I finally found myself in the photographer that was always hiding inside me, and it finally burst out. I fought the “standards” that I saw. I tried to mimic my favorites, and through those failures I realized that I needed to make my own style and cut my own path. I found my stride.
It became less about my fears as a photographer… what if i’m not as good as others?…
And more about the people and families and memories I was capturing…
And I wouldn’t have changed my path for the world. It was started and made by me alone. I had only myself to learn from (and tutorials and Instagram etc) and I am very proud of the growth I’ve made. From the girl in high school with a digital camera always snapping- to the woman I am today that loves that I get to chase my true passion all thanks to those who have believed in me, and stuck with me while I learned.
And don’t worry I still take pictures of my dog. He loves it. I just know he does!
I guess what I am trying to say in this excessively long and drawn out post, is that I did it. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would have a successful photography business I would have laughed. But it happened, and it happened because I did not give up when I was challenged, even though sometimes I thought about it. I tried and failed many times, and I learned about who I was as a person and a professional photographer. I love my work, and am very proud of it, even those photos I shake my head at today. With the thousands of photographers out there, who are better and more experienced than you, just stay true to you, and your style and what you believe in and how you want to send that out to the universe!