My Photography Journey by Beth Wade
It’s hard for me to say exactly when my photography journey began. I’ve been an artist all my life using various mediums, mainly painting and charcoal. For photography though, I took my first class in high school. We made pinhole cameras, developed our own images in a darkroom and I can remember learning about some of the basics. But it wasn’t until college that I got my first SLR. And to be honest, I didn’t use it that much because it was right at the same time that digital (point and shoot) cameras came out.
I was fascinated with the concept of digital design and took my first Digital Art class at Wake Forest University my senior year. We learned how to manipulate images in Photoshop (version 5 maybe?!) and it consumed me. Some of my favorite projects were creating a self portrait and changing images (since it wasn’t a photography class we were told to pull existing artwork from books, magazines and cards) using layers and various tools in PS.
After I graduated I became immersed in Corporate America and my love for art got pushed to the side. I still enjoyed capturing life through photos but it was always with my digital point and shoot. Landscapes had become one of my favorite subjects and still are to this day.
When my oldest son Will was born in 2009 I knew I wanted to document as much as I could in photos. Yet, I was clinging to my digital point and shoot (PNS). While part of me wishes I had looked into a DSLR then, the one thing that I can say for the PNS is that it helped me look for light. I took Will’s newborn photos with it and also photos for every month of his first year.
Once Will hit 1 year old I discovered Instagram and the Photoshop app. From that point on my iPhone became my “main” camera. I used it to document every step of Will’s life and even the birth of our second son Charlie in 2011. It wasn’t until after our first family vacation to the beach that year that I decided it was time for me to buy and learn how to use a REAL camera.
In 2011, I took my camera everywhere with me. I taught myself how to shoot in manual mode. I messed up…a LOT. Yet it was all an amazing learning experience. I was also teaching myself how to use Photoshop again (Elements) and loved creative editing. My camera was still on auto white balance and I was uncalibrated but I didn’t care at that point!
In 2012, I started trying to push myself with different lighting and more creative angles. I started a 365 project that helped me stick to photographing something daily. I experimented with light painting and shot my very first fireworks show. I also created a Photography Bucket List that helped me to think of things to add to my 365 album.
In July 2012, I started my photography business part time. I had no idea what it would amount to but I knew that I loved it more than my day job so I gave it my best shot. I did some second shooting for weddings and quickly knew it was not for me. I also did a few commercial real estate jobs but photographing families and children was what I felt I captured best.
2013 was the year that I decided to specialize in maternity and newborn. After doing 3 newborn sessions I knew it was what I wanted to do. I loved photographing babies from the very start, but it took me a while to love my maternity work. About halfway through 2013 I finally started feeling like both sessions were a true reflection of me and my style.
Last year was when I hit my stride and started feeling really confident in my photography. Everything fell into place and I left my day job in July. Of course, I still have days where I think my work could be better. I still try to push myself to improve or do something new.
In 2015, I hope that I can continue on the path that I’m on and follow my vision for anything that inspires me. I am so grateful to be on this journey and doing what I love every single day.