My Photography Journey by Jennifer Carr
I took my first photography class in high school. It was a semester long class that taught us to develop film. My camera was an automatic, so I’m not sure that we really learned much in the way of photography technique, but I loved the opportunity to see my images appear on a sheet of paper in the developing tray.
In college, I filled photo albums and scrapbooks. I bought my film in bulk, carried my camera everywhere that I went, and developed a roll a week at Walmart. I always made sure to get two copies so that I could share the photographs with my friends. In 2000, my then boyfriend, now husband, bought me my first digital camera. It was an early Olympus model and I was thrilled. I haven’t the faintest idea where the photographs that I took with that camera are; I don’t know if the digital files were lost over the years or if I even printed the photographs, but I can’t seem to find a single digital file from those days.
In 2003, Forrest and I got married and bought our home. We went shopping at art shows, hoping to fill our walls with beautiful photographs of the local beaches. I was crushed when I saw the price tag of even the smallest of prints. Forrest offered to buy me a new camera if I wanted to learn to take photographs like those that we saw at the art shows. Knowing nothing about cameras and never having heard of an SLR, we went with a Sony point and shoot model that offered the option to stack lenses. I loved that camera. I began reading photography books, stumbling over words like aperture and eye-so (ISO), being baffled by “taking a meter reading,” never realizing that this foreign language had no meaning to my point and shoot camera.
My Dad offered me a job taking photographs of the service center he had built at a new car dealership. One of the photographs was printed in a garage lift catalog. I had official begun my photography “career.” With the money from the job and a pre-Thanksgiving sale, I purchased my first dSLR, the Nikon d60 with a lens kit. Our walls were finally filling with photographs that I had taken, but I still hadn’t created because the camera was still in charge.
When my d60’s sensor went bad on a trip to California, I was both crushed and thrilled to be able to upgrade. The d5100 met my needs at the time and I added a nifty fifty (aka 50mm) to my kit lens collection. It was around this time that I stumbled onto the book Beyond Snapshots by Rachel Devine. Suddenly, I understood the language of photography, figured out what the heck a meter was, and took that camera from the scene modes to the big scary “M.” Rachel’s book opened my eyes and allowed me to actually take creative control over the photographs that I was taking. I upgraded to a full frame camera, bought a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens and started researching online photography workshops. A close friend introduced me to Lightroom and I flipped that setting from jpeg to RAW.
When I found Clickin Moms in the winter of 2013, I quickly filled my days with workshops. Lisa Harrison’s Intro to Natural Light taught me spot metering, which forever changed my shooting. Celeste Jones’ breakout Soulful made me long to put meaning into my photographs. Sarah Wilkerson’s Compositional Vision (formerly ACC101) and Elle Walker’s Fine Art and Visual Expression opened my eyes to artistic elements that I had never even thought of. I took 6 workshops that first year and read countless Breakouts. Meeting Kate Densmore in Sarah’s class brought me to my amazing group of photography friends when we formed a Pro Prep Group. I finally had a group of friends that I trusted to give it to me straight, help me grow as a photographer and support me unconditionally.
A year after joining CM, I applied for CMPro. I didn’t tell anyone that I was applying, certain that I would be rejected and use the feedback to grow as a photographer. When I received my acceptance letter, I cried, opened a bottle of champagne, and realized that finding CM had helped make me into the photographer I wanted to be.
These days, I’m selling my fine art photographs online, in galleries, and at local art shows. I take a select number of portrait clients a year, focusing on sessions showcasing portraits in the beauty of our local area. I currently have a solo exhibit in the Art Gallery at the Virginia Beach Central Library and have 2 additional exhibits scheduled for 2016.
With the help of my amazingly supportive husband, the CM community, and the wonderful friendships I have made through photography, I have to come to a place of contentment with my photography. There will always be new techniques to learn, new equipment to buy, and new photographers to admire, my journey is never ending, I hope to always be growing along this road.