Personal Post: How I Became A Photographer

los angeles wedding photographer Personal Post: How I Became A Photographer

Photo by Chris

Many of you know my story by now and maybe have read my brief bio here but there are a lot of new readers to the blog who don’t know my background and I’d like to share it with you. :)

Back in 2007, I started a style blog and purchased my very first camera – a Canon point and shoot. I had never owned nor operated a digital camera before besides the occasional “can you take our picture” moment from strangers and friends. I soon carried my camera everywhere for the purpose of the blog and began to really enjoy photography. Then in 2008, I received my very first DSLR as a Christmas present. It was a Nikon D60 and I was in awe of it – I believe some crying was involved as I opened the box. However, I had no idea what to do with it except shoot in auto mode so the camera spent most of its time sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

During this time, I was freelancing in the fashion industry as a designer. After 7 years and different positions in a few companies, I was burned out and jaded. As much as I loved fashion, I wasn’t in love with the industry and never felt it was a right fit for me. I met some incredible people who remain some of my closest friends but overall I found the industry to be negative. Also during this time, the industry took a bad hit because of the economic and housing crisis and jobs were becoming tougher and tougher to come by. Since I now had more time on my hands, one day I decided my poor camera needed some love and I needed to learn how to use it.

I began by reading the manual from cover to cover and absorbing what all the buttons and functions did. Then I began reading blogs and books and Googling any questions I had. I never thought it was possible but photography soon captured my heart, mind, and soul and it was all I could think about. I studied works of other photographers and tried to figure out how they achieved that image – what settings they used, what time of day it was… It was challenging and enlightening and instilled in me a desire to go out and create my own images based on what I had learned.

Soon my camera and I were attached at the hip and I never went anywhere without it. I shot anything and everything. I learned how to edit photos on Photoshop and developed my “vintage” look that I still use today. I started sharing my photos on Facebook and my now defunct style blog. Friends began asking me to take photos for them and I happily obliged since it gave me another new challenge to conquer and more importantly gave me an opportunity to spend time with my camera.

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One day, unhappy and distraught about the direction my career was going, I had a conversation with someone. They asked me a very simple question: What do you want to do?

Without hesitation, I answered PHOTOGRAPHY. I shocked myself but knew in that instant that I wanted to be a photographer more than anything in the world.

There’s a quote in the movie When Harry Met Sally when Harry says: “…when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” <– That was me and photography. I didn’t waste a minute. I began coming up with a plan and putting things into motion. When life gave me lemons, I made lemonade – in August, 2009, Love & Lemonade was launched.

Launching my own business and switching careers has been one of the hardest things I’ve done. I knew nothing and had to learn everything. I spent more long nights studying and working and editing than I did in college and for almost 2 years I worked almost 7 days a week. I’ve had panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, crying spells and moments of what was I thinking. I’ve had to overcome my extreme shyness and introverted personality (which I’m still working on). I sacrificed spending time with friends and family and missed celebrating important moments. I had to come to terms that I couldn’t do this alone and had to reach out to people and ask for help – sometimes people I’ve never met before. I no longer had a steady paycheck, paid vacations, and health insurance. My life did a complete 180.

But every second, every minute has been worth it. A million times worth it. I’ve learned so much about myself and about life. I discovered who my real friends were. I’ve come to love y family even more for believing in me and telling me not to give up and reassuring me I was doing the right thing. I’ve welcomed new people into my life who have only made it richer and more beautiful than I could have ever wished for.

Every day I am doing what I love. I am immersed in my passion and I am so in love with my job and everything that comes with it it’s ridiculous. I wake up looking forward to my day and go to sleep dreaming about photography and work. I still can’t believe it, to be honest with you…

If you have something you’re passionate about and/or pondering about making a change in your life, follow your heart and your instincts. The mountain may seem steep and daunting but once you get to the top you’ll see an incredible, clear view.

If you are thinking of becoming a full time professional photographer, here are some tips that can maybe help you:

• Read your manual and know your gear inside and out.
• Never stop learning and challenging yourself.
• Ask for help.
• Study the works of other photographers.
• Figure out your style. Check out other photographers’ works and see which ones you’re drawn to the most and go from there.
• Share your work and ask for feedback.
• Practice a lot. And then practice some more.
• Once in awhile get out of your comfort zone and shoot something you normally don’t (i.e.: if you’re a portrait photographer, go shoot landscapes).
• Network and reach out to other photographers and professionals in the industry.
• Have a mentor. Whether it’s someone you know or a photographer you admire from a distance. Learn from them and learn what it is that makes them successful. Apply liberally.
• Have fun. Be happy. Love what you do.

And just for kicks (I think this applies to all photographers):

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P.S. I’ll share with you soon how this girl, who didn’t even like attending weddings, became a wedding photographer…and loves shooting weddings more than anything. ;)

 


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