"How did you get into photography?"
One if the most highly asked questions I get from everyone I meet.
In other words, "how can I follow my passion too?"
Ask any creator and you'll get a different answer. Some people go to school and spend years studying this craft. Other people learn from a strong role model at a very early age. And others may come across it almost accidentally.
My story doesn't really fit into any of these narratives. Photography was never really on my radar until high school. I think I was in my third year and I took a class called Media Concepts. This class covered how to use a DLSR, how to use photoshop, how to tell stories, and how to record videos in a studio. My teacher had won a grant or something so we had a little studio in our classroom with all this fancy equipment that I'll probably never get to work with again.
It was cool. My teacher was a photographer and he was pretty passionate about what he taught. One of the first things we had to learn was shooting a DSLR in manual mode. So naturally, I borrowed my dad's Canon Rebel XS. It was tiny and basic but it got the job done. I was introduced to terms like composition, backlighting, aperture, and exposure. I give credit to that class as an introduction, and I loved it. From there, I would bring that little Rebel around with me and practice on anything I thought would look ~artsy~
(cue the cringey photos)
Holding myself back
Entering college, I still was interested in photography. I upgraded to a Canon Rebel T6i and brought it around from time to time. I was too afraid of what people would think of my pictures or think that I was full of it. I was just an all around insecure woman.
I was the only one holding me back.
I continued to shoot my friends for fun. I have SUCH good friends. Looking back at those photos, it is kind of funny to me because we really thought we were doing something. I could definitely see where my mind was at, but they're not great photos. I tell my friends all the time how grateful I am that they supported my passion for photography. They were so down even though I had no idea what I was doing and I love them for that.
Here are some photos of the early days of my portrait photography.
Finding my voice
As time went on, I practiced more and more. I realized that I loved taking photos of my friends and family. I liked to make other feel confident in themselves so I chased that feeling.
I was a full-time student, worked part-time, and was heavily involved in my church group.
I felt drained by all of these things in my life, but photography fed my soul. It was a creative outlet through which I could express myself. There's also something really satisfying about creating something from nothing.
I was given more and more opportunities by people who saw my work and believed in me. Grad photos, birthday parties, and even weddings! People trusted my talent when I didn't. I thought it was crazy that there were people who were willing to pay me for this, but I'm so grateful they did. I eventually came around and started to believe in myself. The more photos I took, the more comfortable I felt working with people. It has taken me years to find my voice in photography. My voice meaning how I communicate with people, how I tell stories, and my editing style. I even decided to invest in myself and I upgraded to a Canon Mark III and a Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens.
My relationship with photography has a direct correlation with my sense of identity. As I've become older and more mature, so has my photography. You can see that I was still trying to figure out my identity just by looking at my work from high school and college. There's a lot that goes into the influences of my photography style, but the most impactful has been my identity. It's continuing to change, just as any person does, but I've never been more confident in my work today.
Where I'm at now
To anyone just starting out in photography, my only advice would be to know yourself.
Know your worth.
Know your values.
Know your why.