When I was offered to write about my photography journey, I was very excited but also very impressed. The photographers who shared their journeys before me are all kinds of amazing and I hope I do them proud. So before I start, thank you CM for giving me this opportunity to share my journey here with everyone. It is an honor, really.
My first camera was a Nikon FM2. It was a film camera as DLSRs didn’t exist at the time. I bought it in a second hand store just before leaving for a backpack trip to Bolivia. I had never used a camera and I didn’t know anything about the way it worked. The seller quickly explained how to put film into it, showed me the meter, told me that it had to be on « 0 » and that my shutter speed should be around 1/125. Until last year, this is all I knew about photography. For many years after I bought my first camera, I only associated photography with traveling. I didn’t have any children at the time and it was easy to travel far away without much planning ahead. I would just buy a plane ticket, fill a backpack and leave. I have a few photos from that time that I absolutely treasure, like these ones that I took during a trip to Senegal in Africa.
During that trip, I realized that photography was much more than just a way to document what I saw. It was also a way to communicate and connect with the people I met. My favorite memory related to travel and photography is the photo I took of a woman I met there named Marie Louise. My travel friend had a Polaroid camera and when we visited her village, we offered to give the women a polaroid portrait as a thank you for letting us photograph them. They were so happy that they went back to their huts and came out a few minutes later wearing their favorite clothes. I believe this day was a defining moment in my photography journey even though I didn’t realize it at the time. It was discovering that communication, sharing and connection were made possible thanks to my camera, as well as realizing how much a photograph could mean to someone.
After my son was born in 1998, backpack traveling and photography were put aside. I have very few photos of his early childhood and I regret so much not having taken more. The few photos I have of him at that age are some of my most precious treasures.
When my daughter was born in 2004, I got my first digital camera. Because it was allowing me to practice without spending all my money in developing and printing, digital encouraged me to take more photos. At that stage I didn’t yet pay any conscious attention to light, composition or settings. I just photographed what appealed to me. I think I developed an eye over the following years but it came to me unconsciously. However, since I only had very basic technical knowledge and used my camera on Auto all the time, my photos were pretty much hit or miss – missed focus, movement blur, etc. I wasn’t aware of these technical flaws at the time though, and I was really happy with these. Ignorance is bliss!
The more I practiced, the more I started to pay attention to the light and found more occasions to take photos that made my heart sing.
In 2011, my mother gave me her Canon 5D Classic. At that point, I thought it was a shame to have such a nice camera without knowing how to make the best of it. I looked for photography classes but I couldn’t find anything that was within my budget or that didn’t require leaving the house for too long. In April 2011, I stumbled upon a post on Lisa Tichané’s blog where she was talking about Clickin Moms. I was intrigued and registered for a week trial. It took me only a day before I was hooked.
It felt like I had discovered a treasure. I couldn’t believe the wealth of information that was all gathered in just one place. I would go to bed at crazy late hours because I couldn’t stop reading the forums. The kind, helpful and supportive spirit that was prevailing on the board was mind blowing. You could ask any question, at any time of the day or night, and someone was there to answer you. I had never seen anything like that.
When I found out that CM was offering online workshops it appeared to be the perfect solution. I jumped right in. May 23rd, 2011, the day of my birthday, I started my first day of Shooting 101 with Lynne Rigby. Lynne’s class was a revelation. After all these years spent without understanding what I was doing with my camera, learning how to take control of it was extremely exciting and liberating. It gave me wings. Lynne has a wonderful way of teaching that makes it all so easy to understand. Learning in that encouraging environment, with the support from Lynne and Ashley, and from my classmates as well, gave me the confidence I needed to push myself to the next level. The impact they had on me was immense. For the first time in my life, I felt worthy of something.
Here is my submission for the last week of the workshop. It’s SOOC, and for some silly sentimental reason I have never wanted to edit it.
After Shooting 101, my addiction for CM workshops started. I was literally obsessed with learning. For weeks, I dreamed every. single. night. about photography. After Lynne’s class, I took Intro to Natural Light. I learned how to place my subject in regards to the light, how to achieve a silhouette, how to play with backlighting and to use a reflector. Another month filled with many a-ha moments. The only downside was that my kids started to really hate me and my camera, and I had to start bribing them for my assignments. But I found comfort in knowing that I was not the only one.
During these workshops I also met some of the most fun, kind and talented women and I built some precious friendships along the way. It was like finding a family who would finally understand me and my crazy photo obsession, and I loved so much to see my classmate friends grow and get better from one workshop to another.
Later that summer, I learned how to process my photos in Lynne’s Lightroom Start-to-Finish. So far I’ve only used LR to post process; I still need to learn how to use Photoshop but I think LR suits me better. I’m more of an intuitive girl and I love that I can play with LR as much as I can until I get the result I like.
As you probably have guessed by now, my workshop addiction didn’t stop after that. I registered for Lynne’s Beyond the Basics, which was another big step of my journey. It really sparkled my creativity and I learned how to achieve an image that I had first envisioned in my head. I had to work hard to get what I wanted, but when I got it, it was so rewarding.
In October 2011, I took Sarah Wilkerson’s Composition and Creativity workshop. I think I will never be able to express how much this workshop has meant to me. Sarah’s teaching was truly a life changing experience. It changed me, not only as a photographer, but also as a person. It made me look inside myself and finally see what I had in me. What I had kept hidden there for so long. That feeling was so powerful and overwhelming that I cried for days. Sarah puts so much of herself in her class that she really makes the best come out of every one of her students. Her teaching is outstanding, nurturing. Her critiques are fascinating and so enlightening. I can’t rave enough about Sarah and I look forward to taking another workshop with her. Here are my favorites photos from the class.
In December 2011, my CM friends encouraged me to apply to CMPro and I was so honored and so proud to be accepted. I still can’t believe that I’m there with so many talented photographers whom I look up to and who inspire me every day.
Compared to many, I think you could say that my journey is atypical. It took me a very, very long time to understand that photography was so important to me and so necessary to nurture my soul. When I came to that realization, I first regretted having waited for so long… I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I was probably not ready for it before that. Today I know for certain that I can’t live without photography and that my journey is far from being over. I can’t express how grateful I am to my CM instructors, friends and classmates for helping me to finally find my way.