You love hearing how other photographers got to where they are today and this week we have another inspirational photography journey here for you from one of our CMpros, the incredibly talented Elizabeth Blank!
my photography journey | elizabeth blank
I can honestly date my love of photography back to the late 1980′s when my aunt and uncle gave me my very first camera for Christmas – the beautiful, hot pink Le Clic that only took disc film. I loved that camera with every fiber of my being and adored capturing moments through its lens.
After that camera bit the dust, I moved onto the Polaroid i-Zone and the Canon PowerShot. Did I know anything about shooting in manual, composition or processing? Nope, absolutely not. But, I did know that I adored the feeling of capturing a fleeting moment on a permanent medium.
Fast forward to 2008 – Around this time, I found a few photographers online whose work I thoroughly enjoyed following. I was immediately drawn to clean, crisp images with vivid colors and I knew that I wanted to learn how to create that. Throughout that year, I mentioned to my husband, quite a few times, that I would love a “nice camera” to document our life. On Christmas Eve, 2008, the UPS man dropped off the best present ever – my new Nikon D90 with a kit lens.
I had NO idea how to work the D90 (the night I received it, I thought it was broken because so much of the LCD screen was “blinking” back at me after I took a photo. Ha!) and used it as a point and shoot the entire first year I had it. During this year, our first daughter was born and I was adamant about capturing all of her sweet milestones, however, I was doing so in auto mode and I had no control over the images I was creating.
I still longed for the gorgeous images I was seeing online, but was unable (obviously!) to make those images a reality. At the end of 2009, my husband really encouraged me to fully learn the capabilities of my camera and expand my knowledge of photography. Two local photographers, who I still credit so much of my growth to, had recently launched a series of photography workshops and I decided that this would be the place to formally start my journey. After one four hour course where I learned to shoot in manual mode, I was hooked and never again turned my camera to anything other than the manual “M”. After the Intro course, I took additional courses and my obsession for all things photography officially started. At the time, my daughter was about 8 months and unable to run from my camera, so many hours were spent practicing on her. I also joined a couple of different photography forums, Clickin Moms being one, and delved into the world of exposure, white balance, post-processing, and everything else that revolves around digital photography.
A few months later, with a new 50mm 1.8 on my camera, I started getting requests from friends and neighbors to take photographs of their children. I was thrilled to do so and to learn on subjects other than my poor, over-photographed one year old and decided to begin portfolio building at this time.
To be honest, I jumped in feet first without properly preparing myself to start a business. If I could go back in time, I would have taken things much more slowly, but, alas, I didn’t and all of these tiny details now play out in my overall story. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and now, looking back, I wish I had just relaxed a bit at first and been comfortable in knowing that I didn’t have to take on every family that requested a session. However, these first sessions taught me many things about photography and reiterated that I still had a ton to learn. My first full year was fraught with inconsistent exposure, missed focus, white balance nightmares and a lack of post-processing knowledge. On the flip side, this year was also met with an escalating penchant for all things photography and an unyielding desire to learn. I had definitely been bitten by the bug.
The next year, 2011, brought with it a good bit of growth in the photography realm, but it also left me aching for more: more knowledge, more time, just more. I can remember falling asleep at night and just wishing there were more hours in the day to learn this craft faster than I was able to.
At this time, I was still working part-time in a job I loved, but that took a lot out of me. Add on top of that many late nights devoted to continually learning about photography, running a photography business (that I was NOT well-versed in doing, I have my masters in education for crying out loud!) and weekend shoots and I was one tired girl. In October, 2011, we learned that we were expecting our second child and it was decided that, at the end of the school year, I would leave the school system and focus solely on being a mom and a photographer. As much as I knew I’d miss working with students on a daily basis, this was a very freeing decision for me. 2011 also brought with it some big changes in the equipment department as I hung up my D90 in exchange for the D700 and my lens collection began to grow with the addition of the 50mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8 and 85mm 1.4.
At the beginning of 2012, I decided to invest more into my photography journey and decided that it would be very beneficial for me to take a couple of workshops that year. I started by attending a one-on-one newborn workshop with Keri Myers. When I arrived, I joked with Keri that she was my last ditch effort for falling in love with newborns and, wouldn’t you know, 48 hours later I was absolutely totally smitten with documenting these precious little ones.
Also, in April of 2012, I attended an in-person workshop with Meg Bitton. The two days I spent with Meg and a group of 10 other very talented photographers was one I will always hold dear. It was a very validating, eye-opening experience and one that I still feel the effects of today. I definitely walked away from that workshop with a better understanding of who I was as a photographer and what I wanted my images to represent.
The rest of 2012 was a blissful transition from mom-of-one to mom-of-two and re-engaging in the Clickin Moms community. It’s amazing how much time you all of a sudden have when nursing a baby for multiple hours a day. I used that time to continue learning as much as I could through online tutorials and forums. I applied for CMpro at the end of 2012 and was very honored to be accepted into such an amazing group of photographers.
2013 brought with it a booming photography business, which I will forever be grateful for, and the realization that I was truly committed to making my business a success story. It also brought with it another sweet baby girl who we welcomed into the world on December 18, 2013.
Thus far, 2014 has been a balancing act of figuring out how to care for three small children while still maintaining my photography business. I am continually amazed that I have been able to create work for myself within a profession that I truly love. I know that my photography journey will never be fully complete and that it will continue to ebb and flow as time moves on. I am thrilled to be on this journey and look forward to seeing what is still in store for me!
Elizabeth Blank, Georgia
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Elizabeth is an award-winning newborn, child and family photographer in the Atlanta area. Throughout the past four years, her love for photography has grown from a small hobby to a flourishing business. In addition to her photography business, she has taught photography workshops in the Atlanta area since 2010. She adores capturing authentic moments in a clean, pure way. Today, she thrives on being a crazy multi-tasker with her number one priority being her three precious babes and awesomely-supportive husband!