The year was 2010, I received a Canon Rebel T3i with a kit lens as a Christmas gift. I was thrilled to get amazing photos with my big girl camera. But somehow my photos just weren't turning out how I thought they would. Sure, every once in a while I got a good shot, but I wanted to be more consistent. Reading the user manual that came with my camera was way too confusing and trying to learn from online tutorials was overwhelming. Everything I read said I needed to get off auto and shoot manual but I had to remember to change my white balance, the shutter speed, and ISO, and it was all just too much!
I bet this story is starting to sound a little familiar. If it is, then you understand just how frustrated I was. I wanted so badly to take great photos but they were just average, nothing like what the pros who I admired were taking. Until suddenly one day it all clicked! (ha! get it?) Brace yourself, what you are about to see can never be unseen. Okay, that may be a little dramatic but what I am going to show you are some of the first photos I took. The first set of images are filled with all sorts of technical mistakes, some of which are down right embarrassing, but I still hang on to them. Not just because they are photos of people I love, but to remind myself of how far I have come. I am sharing them with you now to show you what I learned from them and that with help and some practice, you can achieve the photos you want too!
I took the photo above just a month after Christmas. You would think that I was taking a photo of the totem pole instead of my son. I mean, where is the focal point? There isn't one. Too much going on in one shot. I basically knew nothing about technique, specially depth of field and took this in auto mode. I was letting the camera do the thinking for me! The other image is from bluebonnet season last year. The progression after 4 years is evident.
Later that year, I talked my poor sister into letting me do her maternity photos. I had learned about backlighting and golden hour and thought that was enough to shoot a photo session. At this point I didn't know about proper composition, posing, or angles and let's not forget the fact that I cropped the top of her head, her hand, AND her belly. Don't ask what's going on with the little giraffe toy, I don't know. The other is one of my favorite maternity portraits which I took last fall. What a difference proper technique makes!
I had discovered lifestyle photography. A style of photography that documents everyday moments in a more natural setting with less posing. Seeing how I had been unsuccessful at a posed session, I thought I'd attempt some lifestyle shots to capture my newborn nephews. That was a major FAIL. I thought lifestyle meant all I had to do was click the shutter. Boy, was I wrong! I didn't know then how much technique went into newborn portraiture whether lifestyle or posed. I totally shot up their noses, a big no-no in newborn portraiture. Although I think this is an important rule to keep no matter who your subjects are. I have since then learned how to successfully pose two newborn babies together and I never shoot up the nose anymore.
The following year in 2012 my nephew celebrated his 1st birthday and I made a terrible mistake called on camera flash. I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about indoor lighting. Shooting in artificial light was still way out of my league. I felt defeated and was back to square one. A recent first birthday session shot indoor shows how much things have changed since!
In the fall of 2013, I purchased my first prime lens. Thinking this was the solution to all my problems, I was eager to try it literally as soon as it arrived in the mail. By then I had learned about shooting in open shade but still did not have a clear understanding of white balance, exposure, or what color cast was. Just take a look at the next photo and you can see that my daughter's skin tone was way off on the first image. Not knowing where to go from there, I decided to take a real hands-on photography workshop rather than trying to learn online. It was a game changer! I knew the theory behind taking a good photo but it wasn't until I had real life instruction with a pro who could correct my mistakes instantly that I began to really grasp how to make a good portrait.
For the next few months I practiced non-stop. I took my camera everywhere while continuing to apply what I had learned and my skills improved tremendously. By the beginning of 2014 I had found my groove. My work had become consistent and I gained the confidence I needed to call myself a professional. That is also the year my youngest was born. With his birth came my desire to niche in newborn and maternity portraiture and the rest is history. As I sit here typing and look at the photos from 2014 and the one from the fall of 2013, I can hardly believe the amount of progress I made in just a few short months just by receiving hands-on instruction from a pro.
Fast forward to today and here I am now with a successful portraiture business. My style continues to evolve as my artistry develops, but what has not changed is my eagerness to share my knowledge and help other women who are right were I started all those years ago. I have created a Photography Start Up course which was born out of my desire to help other women embark in their own photography journey. This allows me to teach other momtographers how to perfect their photography skills in order to make a successful income as a free lancer. Whether you are a blogger, a small business owner, a newbie trying to break into the world of professional photography, or just a mom with a camera wishing to capture her kids, I can help. Online and in-person mentoring is also available. Inquire for more information.
Hey there! I'm Anel. Houston photographer, wife to my high school sweetheart, and mama to four wild kids who I homeschool. I love nature, capturing motherhood, and living a slow simple life. I also blog over at Tender Nest Blog
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