Then and Now: My Photography Journey
Let me preface this post by saying this: I'm SO thankful for everyone who has ever been in front of my camera at any point in my journey. I've always had a love for photography and I appreciate anyone who has opened themselves up and allowed me to photograph them.
With that being said, this post is about my journey as a photographer and in no way a reflection of any of the subjects in the frame. So when I talk about my old photos being less than ideal, it's completely about my skillset at the time and nothing more.
So let's start this journey shall we...
First up: engagements photos. These were from around 2011-2012, and before I had really began studying photography seriously.
The good: I didn't have a shortage of posing ready when it came to couples. I also wasn't afraid to take charge (as you should when you're the photographer) and control the shoot by telling them where to look and what to do. I was willing to try many different angles, even the ones that didn't work so well.
The bad: my editing was ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE. White balance - what's that? Composition wasn't even on my radar and tilting photos was my go-to to add visual interest haha. I also didn't understand light and how to use it to my advantage. I'm also not a big fan of sepia-toned photos anymore, personally. But it seemed to be a favorite of mine back then.
Granted, both of these sessions were before I purchased my first DSLR. But I can't use that as an excuse because I believe ultimately it's about your skillset as a photographer, not your gear and I've managed to get great photos from an iPhone before.
Now, my couple/engagement sessions are more focused on capturing the love and connection between my clients more than it is about just posing for the camera and saying "cheese". I've learned more about light and composition and now I work to incorporate both intentionally into my photos. Such a difference!
Next up: a ballerina styled shoot.
These were taken in 2011 (again, before my first DSLR) and I was SUPER proud of them at the time. I had a friend of mine who was an absolutely beautiful dancer posing for me, and she did a beautiful job.
The bad: again, the editing (beyond the black and whites) is all out of whack. I can't believe how orange (and green) I made her skin in some of these photos. There's also a lot of limb chopping that wasn't at all intentional, and I still didn't understand light at this point.
The good: we played with a lot of different poses and the composition in a few of these is spot-on (particularly the last image in the slides with her and the tree).
This is a session I did back in 2016 with a dancer in downtown Atlanta. Again, my attention to composition and lighting details shows the improvements in my skillset when compared to the old session.
Next: a styled artistic portraiture session.
These images were the first I took when I bought my first DSLR camera. It was a Canon Rebel T3 with an 18-55mm kit lens that I shot with.
Funny story: my friend (photographed here) told me about this awesome door she had seen randomly and thought it'd be great for photographs. She made it sound like it was attached to an abandoned building or something. When we got there it was totally a door to a restaurant that was very much still in business.
We still ended up doing the photoshoot and this was probably the first time I learned how to make any location work. We used not only the door but also fence that was situated on the side of the restaurant and a small patch of greenery that was attached to the fence.
The bad: I was very proud of these photos as well, even though my editing was still a bit all over the place. At times I went more matte, while at other times it was super contrasty. Sometimes I wanted the photo be more saturated, and then other times I made the photo more vibrant. I was definitely experimenting and trying to discover what my look would be. Overall, this session wasn't very cohesive with my editing style.
The good: when I look at these photos, I can definitely see my voice as an artist starting to come through. I did a better job of keeping the light in mind and even thought it wasn't the most interesting light ever, there were no distracting shadows over her face and way less blown highlights than in previous session. Progress was being made!
Again, more attention to light and composition makes all the difference in my photos and how I convey different moods in my work. My editing is also much more consistent these days throughout my sessions AND in general.
Next: men's styled fashion photoshoot
The bad: a lot of tilted frames for no reason were happening in this photoshoot. I also had no idea what shutter speed was and how it could be used to avoid the motion blur in the first photo. I was shooting with a point-and-shoot completely in auto mode at this point, so I'm not even sure changing my settings was an option.
The good: these photos were super fun. We were adventurous and took advantage of the snow that had fallen with an impromptu photoshoot. Again, I wasn't afraid to try different angles in an attempt to add visual interest to the photographs. The editing was also a lot more consistent here, which might have been helped by all the snow reflecting light around us.
Both of these sessions are some of my favorites I've ever done, which is surprising because at one point I said I'd never shoot men. However, I've grown to love street fashion photography and I hope to do more of these types of sessions in the near future.
Overall, my photography journey has been a fun one. I can honestly say that I was very confident in my work at every stage (probably too confident in the beginning but *shrug* haha). Looking back and comparing my work then to what it is now makes me feel very proud of the growth I've accomplished in my work thus far and excited for the growth that is still to come as I continue along my journey.
I think it's always good to take a look back to remind yourself of how far you've come when you feel like you're not progressing. I'd love to see your growth thus far along whatever creative journey you're on whether it's as a photographer or a makeup artist or a baker or a designer or some sort.
Share a photo of your old work alongside a photo of your current work so you can see how much you've progressed, tag it #thenandnowchallenge and share it on your feed or your IG stories to encourage yourself AND others. I'll be looking for the tags and sharing some encouragement myself!