My Photography Journey by Beth Orey
As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved photography. I’ve always been drawn to pictures and the creation of art. I rocked it with my mom’s Polaroid way back when! But it never even crossed my mind so long ago to actually take classes or really learn more about photography. Like so many other parents out there, I got my first DSLR after the birth of our first child in September 2007. My little point and shoot just wasn’t cutting it anymore and my daughter’s adorableness just couldn’t be appropriately captured with that camera! Not to mention my severe lack of skills.
After I invested a little bit of money in a Canon Rebel, I felt like I could take on the world! Watch out people, crazed paparazzi mom wielding a camera with a shutter speed faster than 5 seconds! I was awesome.
Agh, scary… But still precious with the subject pictured. I realized I actually wanted to learn how to use this thing. What’s the point in spending the money on a camera and then not knowing the ins and outs of said camera, after all? I started asking friends who actually had learned how to use their cameras to give me some tips. I asked a lot of questions and sometimes the pictures turned out okay. More often than not, they were horrible, but I loved the ones that didn’t look like they were taken with my flip phone, even if the white balance and exposure was all over the place.
I decided that this was something I actually wanted to attempt to do for other people. But really, would someone else trust me with their own pictures? Well, sure, when you tell them you’ll do it for free! Starting in the spring of 2009, I spent a lot of time taking free pictures for people and trying to hone my skills. I wasn’t great but I was getting a little better. In January 2010, we welcomed our baby boy to the family.
Life was much harder with a toddler and newborn than I thought it would be but shortly after he was born, I tried to jump back into the photography world. I was getting luckier with my pictures – lucky because I still wasn’t competent enough to really have those skills I craved so badly. But I sure did treasure the pictures I took of my own kids that I thought were great…
I still had quite a few of those fail pictures that I would get so frustrated about. I knew I needed to spend more time actually learning what I was doing, not just praying the pictures would turn out decent and fixing them in post processing.
In January, 2001, I joined Clickin Moms on the recommendation of a friend. I was immediately drawn to the forum – a huge group of (mostly) women who were really into photography? Yes, please! The only downside to it? I realized quickly after posting a few of my pictures in the critique section that I wasn’t quite as hot as I thought I was. But you know what? I kept doing it anyway. I kept practicing both with my own little ones and with my meager business. I had begun to really understand my camera and had upgraded to something I felt much more comfortable with. I learned real white balance and exposure. I inherently understood what I had to do to produce the best pictures possible. Were they all turning out spectacular? Of course not, but I kept.trying.
I applied (more than once) for CMPro. I was so determined to make it in. It was a benchmark I made for myself. I had to get there. I worked and worked at this photography thing and I knew I was growing and making progress. I kept asking for critique – it’s the hardest thing in the world to really put yourself out there but there’s no other way to learn. In April of 2012, I was accepted into CMPro. I finally felt like I had arrived (corny enough for you?). I was confident in my photography and who I was as a photographer. I knew going into every session for a client that I could produce beautiful work for them that was both technically sound and memorable. That’s not to say that every day I don’t continue to grow. But I have reached the point now where I feel like every picture I take is a little bit of me. The people I work with have come to me because my work speaks to them, not because they want me to replicate the work of another photographer. I hope I always feel like I can continue to grow and learn and I hope I never lose myself in the images I produce.