In the beginning...
Even as I write this blog, I think about the fact we have to start somewhere. I really struggled to see the value in me writing a blog. The insecurities, the self-doubt. "Why would anyone want to read what I had to say?" Then it hit me, why not? Even if it reaches a few people, even if it hits one, it will be a success. And everyone has a blog these days, people who think they are the authority, the "know-it-alls," the one's to give out advice on subjects they believe they are the experts in. I'm going to preface by saying, I am not an expert, master, know-it-all of photography. I am simply sharing my experiences.
When I started, I took pictures of everything, and I mean everything. Dirt, rocks, clothes, food, toys, books, everything. Then my daughter came and I took lots and lots of photos of her, we are talking 1,000's. Yeah, it's a lot, I know. I received my first DSLR camera right before she was born and after she came I had all this time with her. I thought it would be a perfect time to perfect my newborn portrait skills, not that I had any prior experience. Let me say, she was never neatly swaddled in muslin, with matching hair bows, sleeping peacefully in a basket of soft blankets, her arms and legs just perfectly placed. No, my kid typically had that startled, big eyes, what the f--- are you doing with that flash in my face look. I realized then that this wasn't something that just happens, the eye, the skill; it comes with time. But it wasn't too long before I ditched the flash and moved her over to the sliding glass window where the beautifully diffused light poured in. Or in the late afternoon, her room would flood with warm, golden light. It was then I started to really pay attention to the light. To this day, I am always looking at the light.
I continued with my daughter being my muse. I had this love affair with close-ups. Like, CLOSE. I thought to myself, "I want to remember her tiny toes, hands, nose, eyes, ears..." and then it got just got weird. I look at those ear pictures questioning exactly what was it I thought I'd want to remember. I think really, I just wanted to remember. And THAT right there is why I fell in love with photography. The ability to "freeze time" and look at those photos in order to remember times past. When my little baby girl was tiny, fit in my arms, smelled like heaven, and didn't sass me.
When it came time to start taking portraits of people other than my kid, I was three years into this hobby and had learned a lot. My kid was subjected to so many hours with that big, black camera in front of my face. I was certain she thought it was part of my face.
Then came portraiture photography. The lessons changed. I had controlled my environment with my daughter, now I was venturing out to the world, camera in hand, working with the elements. I quickly found that taking pictures at noon with the sun blaring down on a subject was not only horribly unflattering, it was hot. Those strong shadows and squinty eyes aren't really "print-worthy." Or that just because green grass is rare here on the Central Coast, doesn't necessarily mean I should place my subjects there, did you know it reflects green all over them? And really, wearing a hot-pink sweatshirt to a photoshoot never ends well. Or that just because you have a cool lens, doesn't mean it works for all situations, including portraits.
But with every photo session, I learned and adapted. I'm still by no means done learning. Looking at the progress is what kinda makes this so fun. Seeing how you grow and continue to grow. And even those terrible early pictures of my daughter I cherish, even though I cringe at them. It's all progress and we all have to start somewhere.