PREFACE: Please read this blog from the angle of your passions. These can be 8 steps to chasing your big dream, not only 8 steps to become a photographer (though if that's what you're here for then I think this will be helpful for you!) But If you just need a little nudge to jump off the edge as you wonder how to get started doing what you want to do, then I really think these steps will encourage you. Some of the info will be photography specific (non-photo people just go ahead and skip #6 and #7), but the other stuff can easily be applied to your specific interest, which I just really hope is goat related... see #3.
Another note: I am far from "made it" in any area in my life. I am a professional student of being a human. But I think that's good because the moment we think we've made it is the moment we stop needing to trust God with our lives. So that said, I offer this to you humbly as having stumbled through the first chapters of beginning a new endeavor, and seeing some of that "trusting God with what I can't control" stuff pay off!
It's a gift to be a College Station photographer and Navasota photographer. There is something special and magical about each different kind of session whether senior, newborn, family. There are so many good people here in these parts of the great state of Texas, and photography enables me to meet so many of them! But how did I get started in all of this?
It's been about 2 years and when I look back, WOWZA! I really have learned and grown so much. It's been a blast and also a challenge. Well, I'm happy to share the things I've learned along the way and give you some encouragement and direction! (And also show you to some great gear at the end!)
8 steps to go from interested to invested in photography
1. First and foremost, get over what you think people expect of you! Yuh. That's for sure the first one. For me, the scariest thing about starting a new hobby turned endeavor turned business was fearing what people would think about me doing something they never expected I'd do. Would they think I was a fake? Would they think I sucked? Would they be right? Because it was new for me, I really had to fight a battle against measuring up to people's expectations of me. WHO CARES what people think about you! All that matters is pleasing God because He's your identity anyway, and not what people think of you. So whether you want to start photography, travel the world on a motorcycle, become a master baker, or just learn how to sew, just do it and forget about what people think! So, step #1 - Say goodbye to your reservations that hinge on how you'll be perceived trying a new thing and just doooo it. Do it. DoooOoOOOOOoooOooOO it. Do it. Go. K, cool.
2. Kill comparison before it starts. In anything you do, there will always be someone you see as more talented, more successful, more well-known, whatever, blah BLAH. I just hate comparison. It is a thief of joy, period. NOTHING good will come of comparing yourself to others. There is a huge difference between being inspired/educated by other people and comparing yourself to them. Don't strip your value by weighing your worth based on someone else's skill. Ew. Don't you just hate that? You hear these voices in your head saying, "they're better and more gifted and more popular, so why try?" We were ALL made uniquely and perfectly by God so there's no sense wanting someone else's unique DNA when I've got my own custom set, right?! You do you. Period.
3. Figure out your angle. This is the fun part. Photography, like any art or form of expression, comes from the heart. What do you care about? What are you drawn to? What sparks your interest? What are your passions? Knowing these things will give you vision for your photography. I started by taking photos of animals and landscape because I've always loved all animals and outside is my happy place. Then as time went on my art grew and I branched into portraits of people, and so forth and so on. But it all started with heart. What did I love? So, what do you love? Baking? Water-skiing? Calligraphy? Mountain climbing? Goats? Whatever it is, your passions can give you direction on how and where to start taking photos and cultivating your craft. Tell the photo story of what you love. And I really hope at least one person reads this and becomes a world most famous goat photographer. Plz someone be a Goatographer. Wow. That just happened.
4. Next, while you tell the story you love, tell it as you see it. Only you have your eye. You see details, moments, emotions that other people may not see. The most beautiful thing about photography is that 100 people could take a photograph of a flower and we could see 100 different shots. Everyone has a unique angle, a way they see and want to relay the story. How to find your eye? Start with your heart - what do you love about this moment? Then, chase the why with your camera. Explain, through your camera, what you want people to see when they look at the photo. Example: I love horses, that's my heart. I love all the tiny pieces of a horse that add up to make it one of my favorite creations. So I photograph the mane, the ears flickering backwards, the back legs with two different lengths of socks. How my heart is portrayed in a photo, THAT is my art. Heart is the "what" and art is the "how."
5. S T U D Y U P. Gear is our next step. And before anyone goes out and purchases a camera, my first piece of advice would be to studyyyy, study, study. Read blogs, follow photographers on Instagram, look at photography threads and forums, scan reviews of products, ask people's opinions, do it all! There is really limitless information you can learn about camera gear, because gear and accessories are endless. So before you purchase, study. Figure out what your camera needs are based on your current skill level, where you want to go with photography, and what your budget is. Say you are interested and excited, but a little unexperienced, want to take it further but need time to get there, and you've saved $400 for a camera. That's great! There is a camera out there for you. Anywhere you are in the journey, you can make it happen. Just make an informed decision before you make it happen. You don't need to go drop $1,000 on your first camera, because there are a ton of incredible cameras out there that can take you very far without spending that kind of cash.
6. Photography 101: how the heck do I use this thing? You've got the heart, you've got the eye, you've studied up and you bought your first camera - yay! Now, how in the world do I take pretty pictures?! Take it back to Photography 101: read your manual. Literally, there is so much useful info in your manual. And if you don't have one, just look up what each setting is for. Like, what does "M" mean? Auto I think I understand, but what does the mountain scene mean? Or the running man? What about "P?" Read your manual or look it up and learn what each setting is for, then GO PLAY WITH IT! I think the most important part of learning photography basics is playing with your camera, getting familiar with the settings, and developing a relationship with what your camera is capable of, which is probably a lot. Start by getting used to it on Auto. Then branch out into Creative Auto. Then hop over to "P" or the Macro setting. Stretch yourself, figure it out, then...
7. Use manual mode. Manual is like hiking a mountain. It's challenging to get to the top but the view is 100% worth it. In manual, your camera doesn't make any decisions for you. You choose every setting. This can result in completely white or black, blurry or fuzzy photos, but it can also lead to creative bliss where you FINALLY get exactly what you want out of your camera. To successfully use manual mode, you need a good understanding of Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture. Throw in White Balance and you're good to go. Talking about each of those things will take more time than I have now, so in the mean time here's a great post to get you started! This is why I made #5 and #6 so focused on educating yourself. To use your camera to it's greatest ability, you really need to know how it creates an image. If you study Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture, you'll be well on your way.
8. Finally, step out of your comfort zone and do the dang thing! I will never forget how nervous I was for my first portrait shoot. I knew I needed experience before I could charge people for sessions (which was my end goal), so I asked a friend if I could gift her with free engagement photos to get some experience. That is how I recommend getting out there. You really need to build your confidence and expand your portfolio before you can charge people for sessions, so starting for free with people you know is the best thing you can do. It's safe, it's fun, and you learn a ton. After doing this for a little while, you'll eventually feel more confident, your skills will have grown, and you'll have a portfolio showing your great work and people will want to hire you. Experience really is the greatest teacher, so get out there! Book some free shoots, build your confidence and your craft, and then soon, you'll feel comfortable charging people and they'll happily book you to get YOUR beautiful photos!
BONUS TIPS: MY FIRST CAMERA
Okay so you like my steps, you are ready to go, but you're curious which camera I used to get started. Happy to share!
My first camera was a Canon Rebel T5i (she said fondly). I love my little Rebel. The Rebel series has been out for a while now, and they're just really awesome cameras. You get a lot of bang for your buck. They're great on auto for quick captures or if you want to play with manual and get a little more into it. Also they're small and light and easy to travel with - which is obviously a huge plus. Also, they're pretty study little guys. Built well and can withstand lots of use. There are lots of versions of the Rebel, but I'll link the one I used.
And just for a little look back, here is a quick handful of some of my favorite shots captured with my Rebel and my 50 mm lens!
Hope this helped you jump off the ledge and into the delightful adventure that is photography. Remember, you do you and just have FUN! And if you want to reach out and ask a question, I'd love to connect with you! Or, find me on Insta!
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