Learning Photography

Well this is exciting- my first ever blog post! I think the last time I really shared something in a blog-like forum was back when Tumblr was a thing (it may still be a thing and I may just be getting old).  As requested by those of you who follow me and voted on Instagram, this first post will be on “Learning Photography.” 

I have to say if you’re looking for specific tips and tricks, you may be a little disappointed with me. I really do not have many to share other than:
 1) Learn how to shoot using manual.
2) Shoot in RAW.
3) PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

You see, everyone has their own individual style and preferences when it comes to photos. For instance, I tend to edit warmer because it just appeals to me more. Your own preference and style is something you will have to figure out while you practice and learn how to shoot and edit. This post is more about what I’ve learned so far in the last year and a half that I’ve started using my camera and what sparked my interest in photography. 

Now, it seems coincidental that as soon as I got out of the military and became a military spouse, I decided I wanted to be a photographer, right? Because, I mean that’s what “ALL” mil-spouses do.  Well, yes. I think a lot of military spouses do end up taking an interest in photography and want to turn it into a business, but owning and running a photography business isn’t as easy as people seem to think it is, ESPECIALLY when you’re a military spouse. Imagine building up a client base, knowing your locations for sessions, having your license in that state, having a price sheet that matches your work quality, but will also be marketable to consumers, etc. Now imagine finding out that your husband got orders and you have to move in three months to a completely new state or country and build everything up again. You have to get new people to trust and value you and your work; you need to learn the area; you need to get a new business license in that state or country; you need to change your prices because in this new area, people can’t afford what you normally charge- and you need income right?  What I think a lot of people don’t understand about photography is that it isn’t an easy line of work and it isn't just as simple as buying a nice camera. Check out these two photos. Same camera, same user, but over a year of practice and learning in difference. 

A lot of photographers chose this career path because it is their form of art. It’s an expression. They believe in what they do and they dedicate themselves to it wholeheartedly. Having a good quality camera doesn’t automatically make you a photographer. Pursuing a career in this business is an investment. I learned that quickly. Between buying nice glass, paying for editing software, taking classes, using gas traveling to sessions, buying props for sessions, having quality SD cards, paying taxes, etc.- If you aren’t charging at least what it costs to run your business, then you are not making any profit. I think this is something that a lot of people do not understand. When you are paying a photographer, you are not simply paying X amount of dollars for photos; you’re paying for their creativity, their time away from their families, their travel expenses, their equipment use, their services in shooting and editing, and their talent.

Now, what inspired me to become a photographer? Well, my daughter of course. At first I just wanted a professional camera so that I could capture good quality photos of her during all of her special firsts as she grew up. Then I thought, “Maybe I can get some of those cute professional looking shots of her, like the one of babies wrapped up like a present!” As you can see from the photo above, that DID NOT go according to plan! It was not as easy as I thought it would be. There were different elements like shutter speed, lighting, aperture, and focus that I had no clue about. Not to mention that blanket I tried to use as a backdrop! So, I asked my friend and very talented photographer Heather (Heather Marshall Photography) what I needed to do in order to take more eye-pleasing photos. My friends, she told me the three tips that I shared with you above. Since following her advice, it all began to spiral. 

I began looking up Pinterest “Photography Tips” and Googling “Photography for Beginners.” I started attempting to understand what each element of shooting manual was, and how they all needed to be balanced. I can’t say that I watched a specific video or read a specific book because I really didn’t. I just practiced. I am very much the type of person who learns through trial and error. I played with my settings during a few days out of the week and would try new techniques until I started understanding how each one balanced a different way would affect the other. A HUGE help was actually joining several photography based groups on Facebook. Some of the communities can be a little competitive and not very open to helping beginners, but others really are! Two of them that I enjoy a lot are The Unraveled Academy (https://www.theunraveledacademy.com/) and Fire & Ice Photography Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fireandicephotography/). 

Once I learned how to shoot manual and I began liking the images I was producing straight out of the camera (SOOC), I started to practice and learn editing techniques. I downloaded Adobe Lightroom and began importing images to play on. I learned to adjust my sliders in ways that I felt complimented one another or the image specifically. Now I am not saying that I did or do this in a way that makes my images perfect or amazing, because like I stated before, this is just my journey, how I’ve learned, and what I am still learning. 

After a few months, I started doing model calls and tried shooting people other than my own family. I can admit that I struggled with cohesiveness in my editing style, and sometimes I still do, but you never stop learning in photography- NEVER. I’ve only been doing this for about a year and a half now and when I say that, I mean taking photos. It wasn’t until recently that I decided I wanted to make a business out of it. When I would host these model calls and deliver galleries, hearing how much the pictures I took were treasured and cherished, that just touched me. I mean, I LOVE being able to give people that feeling. For them to feel such joy and happiness when they see these photos of their families; to see these memories captured. It really does make me so so so happy! That is why I continue to pursue this career field. I want to learn more; I want to develop more talent; I want to be great. 

So where am I at right this very second in my career? Well, I am in North Carolina trying to establish my business here. I’ve been taking classes and making goals for myself. A goal I had before January was to have my website up and running, and well, YOU’RE HERE! So, check, done! I’ll continue to keep making goals and keep fighting to meet them and I encourage you to do the same. Even if it isn’t photography that you’re interested in, figure out what you do want to do and be your best at it. Wait, I’m going to say it again: be YOUR best. Don’t focus on what other people are doing or how they are growing. Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you can only manage to get an hour out of the day to focus on yourself and your goals then you take that hour and pour all you’ve got into it. Don’t allow someone else’s path to affect your journey. I think this is something that I have struggled with all of my life. Wanting to be the best at everything and to prove something to I don’t even know who- myself maybe? It’s so crazy how much pressure you can out on yourself to measure up. So here’s some advice- don’t. Be YOUR best.

I hope that if you haven’t already been following my journey, you’ll start to now, and that you’ll see some growth in me over the next few months or years. As always, I thank you for the support, for listening, and for being here! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to message me! I’d love to hear from you.

With love, 
Kayla