Thank you to Clickin Moms for sharing my photography journey here on the blog. I am honored to have this opportunity as I have learned so much through the wonderful women and wealth of knowledge within this forum.
My true photography learning journey began in late 2011 when I took a local photography class on shooting in manual mode. But my interest in photography always existed throughout childhood and my teenage years. While studying at Northwestern University, I even took a black and white developing class. And when my first son was born, I was obsessive about documenting all the milestones and the everyday of his life and those of his 2 brothers and sister.
When my twins were nearing their first birthday, I found myself finally taking that step to learn to control my camera and wanting to have the images on the screen come close to the images I had in my head. As soon as I started learning, I was hooked and practiced everyday. The combination of the technical and creative was exactly what I had been craving. I found Clickin Moms in January of 2012 and immediately signed up for my first workshop, Photoshop Fundamentals with Lisa Harrison. It seems a bit backwards to have signed up for a Photoshop class before nailing my straight out of camera shots, but I think this ended up being the perfect class for me. I discovered that my underexposure and lack of correct white balance made it really difficult to achieve a great image and I learned all the reasons why it is so important to get it right in camera. During this class, I was also enlightened by concepts of flat light and color casts. Boy did I realize I had a LOT to learn!
But this only made me more motivated and I now had the basic knowledge of Photoshop to guide me. I learned the numbers of correct skin tones from the very beginning and I believe this helped me immensely through my continued education.
I followed up with Shooting 101 and Intermediate Photoshop for Photographers, giving me the solid foundation to achieve a good SOOC shot and increasing my knowledge of the tools in Photoshop, including black and white conversions.
Beyond the Basics taught me about backlight, night shots, and silhouettes and gave me basic knowledge in Lightroom, which I use for cataloging images and basic adjustments before bringing them into Photoshop.
Lifestyle with Kids changed the way I approached shooting my kids everyday.
Natural Light with Atmosphere gave me the knowledge to feel confident shooting in any kind of outdoor light and weather.
Mastering Natural Light Indoors challenged me to use indoor light in new and creative ways I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
Elements of Design was a huge turning point for me in my journey. It was during this class where I really feel like I started to use all my technical knowledge and begin to create with more artistic vision. It also really strengthened my ability to see every aspect of my frame and the way my images would be read by a viewer.
During Finding Your Style, I began to recognize common threads that ran through my images and feel the direction I wanted to take with my shooting and processing.
Composition and Creativity really challenged me to find new perspectives and to take some risks.
A couple workshops with Meg Bitton continued to challenge the stories and emotions in my images and processing.
I began Fine Art and Visual Expression in February of 2013 and this course allowed me to work more on my artistic visions.
I signed up for the June run of Art of Observation and I just loved the variety of inspirations that came from the different weeks of that course. The week on music especially found me shooting for emotion and movement in a whole new way.
September’s Exploring Creative Photography course pushed me to experiment a bit from my everyday shooting.
Through courses and travel, I also found myself opportunities to explore my love of landscape photography and I hope the future will hold many more of these opportunities.
I’m so thankful to Clickin Moms for all I have learned and the friendships I have made. My journey is still only at its beginning and I look forward to continuing to push my knowledge and creativity.
Kristen Ryan, Illinois
CMU Instructor | CM Mentor
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With her Nikon D800 and several lenses, Kristen Ryan is a natural light photographer specializing in lifestyle, fine art and landscape images. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband of 10 years and 4 young kids. Her everyday finds her striving to freeze the moments of her little ones’ childhood in an artistic way. Her love of nature and the outdoors fuel her passion for landscape photography. When not focusing on photography or family, she likes to spend her time with a cup of coffee, reading, running, and cooking. She is also a former professional harpist. Kristen is the workshop instructor for The World Around You a co-author of The Road Less Traveled: Finding Your Unique Path.