My Photography Journey by 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!