You love hearing how other photographers got to where they are today and this week we have another inspirational ‘my photography journey’ here for you from one of our incredible CMpros, the incredibly talented Christina McGuire!
my photography journey | christina mcguire
So many mom-tographers’ journeys began soon after the birth of their first baby. In some ways, I wish I could say the same; I’d give anything to have darling newborn portraits of my girls, or lifestyle images of our family when they were still itty bitty. But on the other hand, I’m grateful to have captured those early years with a point-and-shoot, blissfully unaware of the exposure triangle. I was living in the moment with my babies, and my lack of knowledge didn’t stop me from taking thousands of pictures…and having a little fun with Picasa.
Like many moms though, I wanted something more than snapshots and for that we relied on traditional milestone photos at indoor studios. But my kids and confined spaces and hot lights and squeaky chickens was not a good combo. Even worse than the tears (theirs) and the sweat (mine) were the fake smiles. After suffering through this charade for over 3 years, it was time to take matters into my own hands.
In early 2010, I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D3000. I was proud as punch of this photo I took, in Auto mode, the first day out of the box (edited later that year). Lack of compositional genius aside, it remains an early favorite.
Sadly, things would get much worse before they got better! Before long, my daughter started walking and I quickly realized that lucky shots such as the one above where motion was miraculously frozen at 1/30 second were few and far between.
The next month, I signed up for a photography class at a nearby community college, and apparently not a moment too soon, considering “Auto”, Exhibit B:
By the end of the 6-week course, I was shooting in manual and I was hooked. I upgraded to a D90 and 50mm prime lens, started dabbling in Adobe Lightroom, and was on the hunt for another photography class. When I couldn’t find anything locally, a friend of the family (kisses, Karin!) pointed me to the Clickin Moms photography forum.
I spent that summer mostly lurking on the forums, fascinated but also completely overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. It was very much a case of the more you know, the more you don’t know. And so began my 1 a.m. bedtime.
My first CM siggy picture, June 2010:
In September 2010 I signed up for my first CM photography workshop, Lighting 101: Intro to Natural Light, during which my love affair with silhouettes and sparkly trees was born.
In early 2011, I started a 52-week project:
And that spring, I signed up for Lynne Rigby‘s Shooting 201: Beyond the Basics photography workshop:
September 2011 was a big month for me as I made the leap into business and was honored (and just plain giddy) to be accepted into CMpro. Soon after, I signed up for Sarah Wilkerson‘s Shooting 301: Composition and Creativity workshop:
At the completion of C&C, I remember telling Sarah that I finally felt as though I could proudly say, “I am a photographer.” That may sound silly; after all, I had actually started up a photography business a couple months earlier but in the back of my mind I had an engineering degree, my full-time job was SAHM, and taking pictures was just something I did on the side. Over those 5 weeks, however, Sarah and my classmates gave me new-found confidence in my art – exactly what I needed before I could feel worthy of investing in a full-frame camera.
I continued saving my pennies, and bought my D700 early this year, just in time to start a new 12-month photography project with some fellow CMpros.
This past spring, I finally took my speedlight out of the box for Sarah Phillips‘ Lighting 101: Speedlight for Beginners workshop. I loved it and now that the days have gotten shorter again, I need to get back to practicing. And my most recent class was Lynne’s Shooting 301: Finding Your Style, which I took over the summer. I’d been anxiously awaiting this workshop’s debut, and oh my, it was well worth the wait:
FYS spurred an a-ha moment for me, and after it ended, I revamped my portfolio to include some personal projects and several more images of my girls. Those are the photographs that fill my heart (so many of them taken during CM workshops!), yet I’d always thought that a “professional” shouldn’t have a portfolio chock-full of her own kids. Then, during the last week of class, we touched on defining and shooting for our audience, and I took a step back to look at the big picture: commissioned work is just a small portion of what I do. I work decidedly part-time and, thanks to my wonderful clients, right now I’m as busy as I want to be. But my true audience, that’s me and my girls, 10/20/50 years from now, when I pray we can look back on these memories together. I shoot for myself and I shoot for them.
Thank you, Clickin Moms, for helping me find both the light and my way along this journey. Wherever I go from here, I am forever grateful for this community abound with knowledge, inspiration, encouragement, and friendship.
Thank you Christina for sharing your story with us! It has been an inspiration to watch you on the forum the past couple years and watch your natural talent flourish!
Christina McGuire, Michigan
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ChristinaMcGuire is a natural light children’s photographer, born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit. Always an artist at heart, it wasn’t until Christina became a mother that she found the inspiration and freedom to return to her creative roots. She now paints with her shutter, most often documenting the shenanigans of one blue-eyed babe and another brown-eyed girl. When she’s not busy wrestling the red channel on her Nikon D700, Christina enjoys date nights with her hubby, playing Lego with her daughters, and swapping recipes with girlfriends.