(I can’t believe it’s been nearly 5 years since I wrote my original Dear Photographer post.)
Can you believe it has been nearly 10 years since you officially began your journey as a photographer? You started much earlier than that, you always had disposable film cameras in your youth and for your 18th birthday, your mom bought you a Targus film camera. You couldn’t wait to get your hands on a digital camera and it wasn’t until 2007 when bought yourself a Nikon Coolpix E7600 with some leftover money from waitressing. It was so awesome to be able to take pictures of anything at anytime. Eventually you bought a Kodak EasyShare, but what you really wanted was a DSLR. Your best friend got one and you would take pictures on it whenever you could. In 2010, you documented Camp Little Joe’s 60th anniversary on her camera – even funnier to you because a week later, you were back together with one of the subjects you were documenting. Then came Ava and that sealed the deal – you had to learn photography. You would borrow Uncle Marky’s DSLR to take pictures of her, but you needed to have your own and could finally afford it. So for Christmas 2011, you purchased a Nikon D5100 with kit lens. Never did you think to yourself, “I will be a professional photographer someday,” you just wanted to capture every stage of your daughters life the best that you could. The first SECOND you could take a photo on that camera (as soon as the battery was charged) – you did just that. It remains as the image you remember of Ava’s “rooster curl” at 5 months old.
You practiced all the time, mostly on your niece Mariah. She was always willing to be your model and in doing so, you learned SO much about your camera. Back then, you were still shooting in aperture mode but you were learning composition, focusing, lighting. You made it a point to try to learn something new every time you picked up that camera. You would take pictures here and there of other people, just for fun. Then you started photographing other people. Looking back, you wonder why in the world anyone paid anything for those photos, but understand that it was a stepping stone. You became interested in learning how to shoot in manual mode the in the winter of 2013. It was not easy, by any means, to teach yourself photography. Months and months of trying and failing and finally getting it after reading a blog on Click It Up a Notch. Your A HA moment… finally.
By fall 2014, you were mastering manual mode – and looking into how to start your business. You also had made a blog and had some photographer friends from different states that you met online helping you with it, “The Thrifty Tog Blog.” It fizzled out after a few months, no biggie. Then the same friend you worked on TTB with had come to you and had a new idea – Dear Photographer. You worked your butt off from mid-2015 to 2017, running the Facebook page, keeping the blog going, getting two photographer meetups planned in different states. You even developed a magazine, literally designed it from scratch which released early 2017 – you wanted to give up a few times in the process, but you held on until it was done. Then, you decided it was time to part ways. You wanted to stay because you spent so much precious time working on this and building it up… but you weren’t treated fairly and your friend, wasn’t your friend anymore. It wasn’t a decision you took lightly, and still to this day it bothers you… your farewell post that so-called friend wrote when you left was taken down, so it was literally like you were erased from it’s history. You know and there are some good friends that you met through that community that know your integral part – and a lot of them also left that community. Today, all you hope is that your reasons for starting it didn’t go to the way side – beginning photographers to feel empowered in their journey and seasoned photographers to help them in their journey – and for them both to continue to learn from one another.
Eventually, you had to have a full frame camera but you didn’t have the money to buy anything new, so you chose a used Canon 5D classic in March 2015, which at the time, was 10 years old. Oh my, who cared? It was such an amazing camera, to go from crop to full and show you the possibilities that were endless! The 5D and 50mm 1.8, which for you at that time, was a $550 setup but absolutely amazing to you, left you wanting more though due to technology restrictions from an old camera. So you bought a used Canon 6D and again, were floored at how amazing it was. You held on and on for that Sigma 24mm, knowing it was quite an expensive lens – and were able to buy it used from a local photographer in spring 2016. It’s been nearly 4 years and it’s still the only lens you want to use, so beautiful. Finally, in 2019, you purchased a used Canon 5D Mark iii for a deal you just couldn’t pass up. It is so nice to have two cameras and not have to worry about what happens if one breaks.
Wow. If only you knew how many photographs you would take, how many people you would meet because of photography, how you would run out of wall space haha. How empowering, frustrating, interesting your journey would be. How you would view these images you take for others as memories and get to watch families grow with your camera. How much a gift you really have.
Continue to grow, no matter what. Be kind to others, help them on their journeys. Be thankful for the photographs you have taken that are on walls in homes for families to look at for generations.
Ava growing up has been a testament to my photography journey. To see how far I have come, it is amazing to me. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.