February 05, 2009

How I Became A Photographer.

Working at the computer. Waiting for a disc to burn so I headed over here to say a quick hello. All is good at our house. Jack is working on a school paper this week and the topic is "Who is my hero." It was so fun to read it, he chose his dad as his hero, he talked a lot about the responsibilities of Rob's new job and how he helps people. Sweet boy.

Cat asked me in the comments yesterday how I got started in photography.

I hear that question a lot. I got started in photography as a fluke. I always loved being behind the camera, looking at pictures always made my pulse quicken. I love photographs. It never even dawned on me that I would actually one day become a photographer. My journey started when I was pregnant with Derek. I knew that I didn't want to work outside the home, but knew I wanted to work. So I started praying that God would direct my paths and open a door for me so I could have a source of income and also have the ability to be at home with my children. I babysat a lot when my kids were little, and as kids have a tendency to do, they all looked absolutely adorable playing and so I pulled out my camera to take some cute pics to pass on to their parents. One of the mom's encouraged me to follow up on the picture taking thing as she thought the pictures were very good. Over the course of the following year I could feel God prompting me to step out on faith into the photography business. After a year I started officially as a Children's Photographer. I had come up with a little niche that wasn't being done in our small town, I shot only black and white film, then hand colored the images, touches of color, or the entire photograph. They were very fun and looked very old fashioned. To this day I prefer a hand colored image over a digitally manipulated image for touch of color. After a year of the black and white only I added color film.
Over the following years I added families, then seniors, and then weddings to my line up.

How did I learn my craft?

I asked questions and read every photography book I could buy. Those first couple of years I didn't charge hardly anything for my pictures, I was learning. As the years and experience grew, I felt more comfortable behind the camera, but I still hadn't found MY style. I was still shooting film, and was shooting for the 8x10 as photographer's say. I really liked the pictures that show personality, silly faces, movement, but would people generally buy those images...no. They bought the one where everyone was looking straight into the camera and smiling. I think there is a place for those images, but the images that made me happy were the photojournalistic style, life happening, not every hair was in place. I was trying to give people what I thought they wanted, by shooting like other traditional photographers. I came close to shutting down my business because of that mindset. I had shot what I thought was my last wedding, heading out one morning to register to go back to school. I was done feeling stagnant and boxed in. I logged onto my computer to check email right before I left the house and someone had sent me a slideshow of images.

I knew when I saw those pictures that the photography industry was where I belonged. But I also knew I had to make some changes. I called that day to my favorite camera store, B and H out of New York and bought my first digital camera and flash, then I ordered photoshop. The next 3 months I cried alot, learning my camera and photoshop at the same time was very difficult for this technically lacking mind. But I did it and because I am not being boxed in by the roll of film, and being digital afforded me the luxury of shooting more images, then showcasing those images on line for people to see all the fun and emotional shots, not just the 8x10 standard, gave me the avenue where I felt like my creativity was being developed not snuffed out. I also made a choice that I would shoot what felt right to me, not the way someone down the street shoots. Because of my website and blog and the way I proof in a coffee table album, people know my style, and I don't need to adjust my style to them. They like what they see and they call me. If they don't like my style then they call someone else. And that's just the way it should be.
I have made a commitment to continuing education, I try to attend a minimum of 2 but hopefully more seminars and conferences each year. Over the last year I have been blessed to attend conferences of photographers whose work inspires me. I am always looking to grow and develop my craft, never wanting it to get stale, it is important for me to continue to challenge myself and never quit learning, never quit pushing myself. The moment I do that I will grow bored with my job and there will be no inner reward for me and I will be done.

I have developed my business in baby steps. I waited till the next step felt right and I felt like God was leading and then I jumped with my eyes wide open trusting that I was making a positive choice and one that would bless God and bring glory to Him. I can't separate my job from my faith, because it is only because of the faith God has given me that I ever asked for my first $25 sitting fee. Without Him I would not be a photographer. Before every sitting I cover it in prayer, I ask for God to be with me and with those who I am photographing. He is there the whole time and I am calling upon His love to shine in my work. All praise to Him.


Jennifer said...

We are so thankful for your work! It brings much joy to me to look at the images you took around our home. I am grateful you were there to document that time in our lives!

Cat said...

Thank you so much for your reply! So inspiring and encouraging.

chesley said...

Catching up on your posts & just read this one. I always love to hear how people get their start. I LOVE your style! I am wanting to purchase my first DSLR...any recommendations?? You can email me if you have one..chesleyhendricksonATmsnDOTcom