My Photography Journey by Jessica Holden
I have loved photography since I was a little girl. My Grandpa was colorblind, but he drew exquisite charcoal drawings of the sun streaming through redwood forests, and I yearned to create art that was half as beautiful as his. My first camera was a Brownie given to me by an old family friend, and to this day I remember the pungent smell of the film, the feel of winding the spools between each shot…. I adored that little camera (and so deeply wish I still had it!). I seemed to have an innate understanding of the rule of thirds and natural framing, and I remember being proud of myself when I learned how to achieve a starburst by angling myself so that the sun just barely peeked around an object such as a tree, fencepost, or building. And I adored my soft-focus lens. I figured I was a rock star!
But as often happens between childhood and adulthood, I began to realize I had a lot to learn. I went to college and got married, and we had a daughter. I had grand visions of the images I wanted to take of my baby girl—the days with her felt so fleeting and I was desperate to capture them—but I just couldn’t figure out how to make my vision a reality on film.
I cut off limbs at awkward places more often than not. I didn’t understand flash, and I used the harsh on-camera flash with abandon.
Occasionally I got it right, and that was incredibly motivating, though usually it was by happy accident.
The awkward chops remained consistent in my work…
After a while, I finally moved from a film SLR to a digital point-and-shoot (because I was so unreliable in my shooting, I went through a lot of costly film!), but the shutter lag was frustratingly slow, and I was missing the moment more often than not. So in my typical fashion, I started researching obsessively. I first turned to Flickr, and the kind folks I “met” there helped me select my first dSLR in 2007. I also discovered the wonder of Photoshop that year, complete with over-sharp and bright eyes and processing that was all over the place.
And I still wasn’t watching the edges of my frame for chops…
In 2008 I finally read Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure and began to take control of my images by shooting in manual mode. And soon after, I took my first online workshop, which really helped me learn how to think through my images, though my editing was still very inconsistent.
In 2009, I discovered and joined Clickin Moms, and I felt like I’d found a home away from home. I learned so much from the kind women there and the abundant tutorials, and I started to become more creative with my shooting. When I look back, I realize that was the year I really started to find my own voice.
In 2010, I took another workshop where I learned a lot more about shooting in various lighting situations (still not through CM as they didn’t have anything like this yet).
On February 14, 2011, I applied for CMpro. It had been launched several months earlier, but I was initially too apprehensive to put myself out there. I hoped doing it on Valentine’s Day would prove lucky somehow and that I would hear back before my birthday—it seemed like an opportune time for a sentimental girl like me. A few days later when I received the acceptance email, I was shocked but absolutely overjoyed (and, I admit, intimidated—I couldn’t believe I was amongst the women I’d been admiring for years!).
I’ve taken a number of CM classes since CMU launched, including Sarah Wilkerson’s Composition and Creativity along with an Intro to Lightroom and a Lifestyle with Kids class, all of which were invaluable.
This year I am working on my creativity, and I’m trying to shoot with more intent. I’ve done a few concept shoots and have been practicing a lot with my Lensbaby, and I am trying to get better at capturing the details of our every-day life.
I am thankful every day to have found photography. It is my passion; it comforts me and it grounds me. It helps me preserve cherished moments and memories in a life that often feels too fast. To keep actively learning, I participate in the Daily Project, challenge myself with personal projects, take periodic workshops, and engage in blog circles and Facebook groups with other women who share my enthusiasm. Photography is the one hobby that’s remained a constant in my life, and I know it’s a journey that won’t end—and that thrills me!