Say Cheese–Becoming a Photographer

The last in this series, Singleness of Purpose, brings me to my current passion and endeavour, photography.

I am a photographer
The peanut photographer. A composite photo that was posterized.

I had not really intended to become so involved or to take it so far, but it became like this rolling ball down a hill that just kept picking up debris and dirt and becoming faster and bigger. I just know, I am enjoying the journey.

I sat staring at my camera. My beloved Nikon D7200 and I could barely turn it on. I didn’t understand the menus, what the settings did or how to make any adjustments. Calmly, I searched the internet for a tutorial and I found through Udemy, a video lesson on how to get started with the Nikon camera. It wasn’t long before I was out in my background taking photos with different exposures and depth of fields and out the front of my house panning cars. I had Sue and my Mom smile and pose in every room in our house, in front of windows and doors and under the lights and with flash.

I sat, staring at my computer, tears rolling down my checks in frustration. I had taken all these photos, my first batch, and was now looking at them in Lightroom. I didn’t know where to begin and felt completely overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do with these, now that I had taken them and downloaded them. How did I take them from what they looked like, to what yours looked like? “How can I do this when I don’t even know what a good photo is supposed to look like,” I wailed.

That’s when it happened and everything changed for me. In a moment of clarity, I realized I had to study photography in order to become a photographer. I wasn’t really sure if I even liked photography, but I knew I had to study it to become at least somewhat proficient at it. That’s when I turned off the television, closed my e-book reader and took up residence in front of my computer. Over the next three months, for the duration of the summer, I spent literally hours everyday studying photography.

I found that the internet was a bottomless wealth of information about photography. I just had to look and research, and in some cases, pay a small fee for some of the information. I was focused, as I had a timeline. September was the start of the Scarborough Camera Club and I wanted to attend at least appearing I knew what I was doing somewhat. I practiced and practiced what I learned. I spent my weeks, organizing my life around photography. I went out every week for a couple of hours and just took photos in new places. I carried my camera bag with me everywhere when not at work, and just took pictures. I went on vacation, and just took pictures. Over the course of the summer, I practiced, taking almost 5,000 photos in all.

I progressed from Lightroom post-processing, to NIK Software to OnOne Software to Topaz software. Each new post-processing program furthered my ability to create different and more dramatic looking photos then straight out of the camera. I used the developers websites, tutorials and webinars to study creating different effects. Grunge, texture, HDR, Orton Effects and the list just goes on and on. But I wanted input, so I looked on the internet and starting using Facebook and found photography hosting websites like Flickr and 500px.

I purchased some digital magazines, Fotozaar, where photos were presented and the maker wrote about their experience in creating the photo. I poured over the web daily, looking at photographs. I started to see the differences between good and great photos. I had read many times over, study the masters. I looked at photos, thinking about the rules of photography and figuring how they were applied, or broken, and why the photo worked, or didn’t. I spent almost all of my spare time either taking photos, processing photos or looking at photos.

I became a full-time student of photography. I learned the basics and quickly continued into the intermediate realm. It wasn’t until I started at the Scarborough Camera Club in September, that I realized I really wasn’t the ‘newbie’ I felt I was. I had a lot of knowledge, I understood most of what I learned. It was just applying it consistently to get results I wanted that was still lacking. That, is experience. But it comes down to that one moment, that awakening of realization when one decides to take action. For me it was the moment I realized I had to become a student of photography. By going forward with this singleness of purpose, whereby I change and organize everything in my life to support that purpose, is what I learned in AA and what helps me to be successful. Focus. It is how those that are successful become successful. I am a photographer.

 

 

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