Hey Guys! Can You Keep A Secret?

Shhh….. Guess what? Can you keep a secret?  Oh, shucks! I bet you can! Tomorrow is my anniversary! Not just any anniversary.. tomorrow is THE day I picked up my camera! This day was the moment I stopped taking photos of landscapes because I fell in love with taking photos of people! Prior to this, I did a lot of landscape work and I would say I was a heavy hobbyist. I did publish my work in the two books I’ve published!

And guess what? Boy! Were these portraits AWFUL. Yes, extremely awful. I started out with a NEX-6, Hey! Don’t judge! I purchased a cruddy kit lens and a 70-210 (another awful lens with a 3.5 f/stop) and I started clicking away. These awful images, I learned. I then started to think… hey I’m not doing too bad… even though they really did suck… I thought I was good! Haha! I was far from it!

rocco and bubbles
My son and his teddy named ‘Bubbles.” Taken in our South Jersey garden!

I learned right away to have some thick skin in this industry. My work was mocked and given extreme constructive criticism. I was told I suck (I thought I was the schiznit) and that I had to keep working. Too much work on the eyes… her skin is glowing… she looks like an oompa loompa. Your white balance is crazy.  At least the eyes are in focus. Too much fake blur… and yada yada. Guess what? They were right.

This all hit hard… Why? Well, didn’t I say.. I thought I was the schiznit. I cried and wanted to give it up… but I didn’t allow it. It was then at this time when I was hit on my hiney. I started from scratch and learned the basics. The ins and outs of my equipment, settings, working with manual, (it was a HUGE HUGE step when I switched from “portrait” mode to “aperture” mode in those days), then onto manual settings.  I learned about light. I upgraded my equipment to something more professional (the NEX was a great camera, but wasn’t cutting it). I upgraded lenses. I took classes.. Classes after classes… after classes.. (I’m still taking classes, btw.) I learned how to properly expose.  I purchased a ton of props… and I mean a ton. Look at my basement and garage… it’s very frightening to say the least.

I learned how to set my own white balance, learned about light and how to read it and utilize it.  I learned about focal planes and getting it right in camera so that I don’t have to photoshop the hell out of it. I learned how to shoot in RAW. I learned that someone will always be better than you. I learned to not judge others coming into this industry that are just starting out because I was in their shoes. I learned to edit and to edit from the best.  I learned how to shoot with a manual focus lens and it’s honestly all I use now! I learned to make FRIENDS in this industry and not ENEMIES. I learned a bit about flash photography (I still need a bit of work on it). I eventually learned to take constructive criticism like a champ.

gigi princess
Taken in an alleyway right across the street from me in Woodstown.

I guess to sum up this entire past year… Is that I LEARNED and I learned a lot. I have won a few awards with my work and am now starting to get a bit of recognition in the industry. I worked dang hard to get here.  The point that I’m trying to make about all this learning is… YOU WILL NEVER STOP LEARNING IN THIS INDUSTRY.

You think you know it all… and then you are dropped right back down to reality because you don’t.

Photography to me is my passion and love of life. It has been my light in some of the ups and downs in my reality and it’s always been there for me. I hope to keep learning and I want to keep learning. I want to grow. I was a seed and now I’m a sprout. I haven’t turned into that flower yet and it will take years to get there, but I am working on my way and working hard to get there.

Basically, enough of my ramblings, but… I wanted to thank you all for giving me one of the best years of my life. I have never worked so hard for something (okay, I have always worked hard!)  I will continue to give my clients the best and I wanted to thank you all!! Also, it’s a great and wonderful feeling to be able to take great photos of your kids. I think that’s what I learned most about this… was that I made it fun experience and I was able to capture some beautiful memories that I will always cherish with and of my babies!

So as I raise my glass of water up high… I wish myself a Happy Anniversary!!!

-Dee

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