Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Grateful for My Photography 1-Year Anniversary!

Today marks one year of owning a DSLR & shooting in manual. Happy 1 year anniversary to me! :) Yes, I'm celebrating. All of you fellow photogs will totally get it... The rest of you can just scroll through for the pictures! ;) This past year has been a blast- I'm thoroughly enjoying this creative outlet. I thought it would be fun to share my photography journey from this past year. I've got a surprise at the end, so be sure to keep reading!


I can't remember how I came across Courtney's blog but I remember reading Click It Up A Notch and thinking I've GOT TO GET A CAMERA! :) Her blog makes photography & specifically shooting in manual mode understandable to the everyday person. I'm drawn to her images because she's a mom seeking to capture her everyday life. It wasn't long after finding Courtney's blog that my first DSLR arrived- a Nikon D5200. I bought it with a kit lens & I think I used it twice in the past year. I should have followed Courtney's advice and just bought a prime lens because I wanted to shoot in manual mode, which would allow me more creativity & control over my images. I did also get a prime (50mm 1.8) but it was a manual lens. I'd later learn that while you want to shoot in manual, you want to autofocus. Confusing, I know. I felt a bit cramped taking pictures inside with the 50mm & since it wouldn't let me autofocus, in January I bought a 35mm 1.8. It's lived on my camera ever since! :)


Learning manual in the beginning was fun but it didn't always yield the best of pictures. I shot in manual from day number one, though I did try out Aperture Priority for a few months when I first started my Project 365 (November & December.) I didn't like the restrictions from giving the camera control over settings however & went back to manual. No going back EVER! Anyway, in the beginning of my journey, I was pregnant with serious health concerns on top of being a home-educating mama to seven other littles. I was busy! (And still am!) ;) I struggled a bit with learning manual but I was thrilled by the change in my images already from a point and shoot camera.

Occasionally, I've battled self-doubt about sharing my pictures because the more I learn, the more I see how far I have to go. But that's okay- I'm a mama documenting her family's life. My goal for photography is to capture our real life & document it for future generations. I also enjoy sharing pictures with loved ones who live far away. I know learning takes time. I need to focus on being thankful for what I've learned & where I'm at today. This is a journey & I think I'll never "arrive" because there is always going to be something to learn! Here are a few pictures from the beginning of my journey:


Early in my journey, I made the HUGE mistake of not backing up my photos, Our computer crashed and I lost all those pictures from April till August! It was really devastating. STOP RIGHT NOW & GO BACK UP YOUR PICTURES! Our computer is now set up to automatically save my images. 

This past November I decided I wanted to become serious about learning photography & specifically, shooting in manual & editing with Lightroom, which I bought shortly after getting my camera. (This should probably be my anniversary date instead of April!) I found I loved capturing our life in images. My pregnancy was over & Katherine was a bit older, so the timing was good. Eric encouraged me that he would rather spend money for me to learn and take the children's pictures than paying a professional, though we still need one for family shots. 

Things began to really click when I joined Clickin' Moms (like the pun?). This site is AMAZING! The forum is packed full of free tutorials. I'm blown away by the talent of these ladies & yet, hobbyist are right at home learning with the pros. I can't recommend joining CM enough- you'll grow by leaps & bounds. You'll also be stretched- I'm thinking about photography in a whole new way now! Before CM, I was just picking up my camera and snapping shots. Now I'm actually thinking before I shoot & I'm gaining more skills to help me achieve what I want to capture. 

In February, I took my first class from CM as a study along participant: Mastering Manual Exposure. Wow! What a change this brought to my journey! Those instructors rock- thank you, thank you! If I could go back, I would have taken this class right away. After this class, I was finally nailing exposure. Here's just a few images that show the change in my images:

Since taking that class, I've also bought a few break out sessions. Snapshots to Art just finished up &; it was fabulous! I'm discovering that I really enjoy the editing process & I'm looking forward to growing in this area. I'm currently going through Flawless (bought on a 40% off sale- CM has great deals for members!) and Photographing Your Everyday. Eric teases me that I don't have to try to learn everything all at once but I find that when I'm studying, I'm motivated to take pictures. Besides, there's SO much to learn! :)

Another motivator to taking pictures is my Project 365. You can follow along as I (attempt to) take one picture each day for a year. Just click the tab at the top of our blog. :) Picking up my camera regularly is proving the BEST way to learn! I'm taking these images & making a scrapbook using Project Life material, which has helped to simplify the process so I can keep on top of it. Yeah!

Last month, I invested in another camera- a Nikon D7100. YIPEE! While it would have been fun to go full frame, the cost was just too high so I decided to purchase the best crop frame I could get my hands on! I think I'll be happy for quite some time. :) Eric promised to buy me a full frame on our 25th anniversary. That's in 10 years- yep, I'm keeping track! ;)

While my exposure has improved, I'm still learning how to do so faster & consistently. I've got a lot still to learn (figuring out my style, editing skills, composition, skin tones, B&W, lighting & more) but I'm grateful to The Lord for opening doors for me to start this journey in photography! I'm grateful for how far I've come! I'm grateful to my husband who's encouraged me, listened to all my chatter & let me spend funds. :) I'm grateful for friends &; family who look at my pictures. I'm grateful to the many women I've "met" online & now follow (in a totally non-creepy sort of way, of course!). Most of all, I'm grateful for the memories of my family & life that I've captured & documented! It's gonna be fun to see what happens in the next year!

Now for the surprise! To celebrate my 1-year anniversary, I'm giving away Courtney's Photographing Your Everyday ebook to one random reader. Again, you've got to check out her blog! I own a copy of her ebook & am looking forward to working my way through her tips over the course of a month. I know from following her blog that I'm going to learn a bunch & capture some great pics along the way. To enter, take a look through my Project 365 & tell me which picture is your favorite by leaving a comment below before Saturday. We will (very un-scientifically) pick a winner on Saturday morning by letting one of the children draw number from a bag. The winner can send me their email & Courtney will forward you her ebook! AWESOME!!!

UPDATE: the winner is "The White Family!" Leave your email in the comment below & I'll be sure Courtney sends the ebook your way. Thanks, everyone! :)


Becky said...

Hi! I'm excited to follow along with your photography journey via your blog and our Snapshots to Art FB group! My favorite picture from your 365 project is probably the one of your girls in pink coats cuddling together in front of the fence. It is so striking and adorable!

Keri Sommerville said...

Hi there! I really enjoyed looking through the photos you've taken so far for your 365! Good for you on getting your camera out that often. I'm not quite as good about taking photos as I'd like to be. My very favorite image that you currently have up is the cropped image of the little girl in the blue shirt with the flower in her hand. It's really love. The composition, aperture and focus are wonderful! Thanks for sharing! I look forward to following your 365 progress :)

Tina said...

I loved reading this post! I blogged for years and have recently taken a break to learn all this photography stuff! I miss blogging though.

You have such a beautiful family!

Thanks for the chance to win the book.

I've enjoyed Snapshots to Art so much!


The White Family said...

I love your progress! Your recent work is great! I love the self portrait with your daughter. I need to do this type of thing more often.

Jeremiah and Stephenie said...

My favorite is 31/365. The one of the baby in the car seat smiling at her siblings.
You are making me want to learn more about photography. :-)