Photographers grow and change just like anyone else. Our styles develop over time. Like many artists, we may begin by imitating other’s work that we love, until we fall into a groove of our own. I know all of that was true for me.
I have always been passionate about photography. I was the kid at summer camp running around, trying to capture each moment with my 35mm camera (weighing each photo carefully…I only had 24 frames on my roll of film after all!) As a teenager I had the amazing opportunity to travel around the world and once again my camera was my trusty companion. My photos weren’t good and I was often disappointed when my film was developed, but none of that dampened my enthusiasm.
I got my first digital camera in 2005 and was hooked. I worked hard with that $100 point and shoot. I experimented with the settings…with flash and no flash. I worked on my composition and sometimes even converted my photos to black and white! I was rocking what I had and loving every moment of it. In 2007 I upgraded to my first DSLR, a Canon 30D. After having it for a few months I was determined to master manual mode, which I did. When I pushed the camera and its kit lens to its limits, I bought the Nifty-Fifty (50 mm 1.4) and learned how to use that.
My style of photography has evolved a lot over the years. From 2008-2012 I thought high contrast and bright colors were the bomb. Who cares what the subject was? My goal was to make it brighter, more vivid, more…everything…
Bright! Contrast! Vivid! Wow, I feel like I need sunglasses to look at these photos now. Who needs catchlights when you have this much color and contrast?
I was also convinced that putting my subject somewhere interesting (who cares where or why) made for an interesting photo…maybe even art. Here, stand in front of that tree. That will make a great photo!
Now my style has evolved into a more natural, muted look. These photos were taken on the same property as the first two, but I have learned to use the light and plants as a beautiful backdrop. I value expression and personality over “cool” locations. I want my subjects to feel happy, comfortable. To feel like themselves.
Posing newborns? It wasn’t always my strong suit. Here is a photo from 2009:
I mean, what in the world was I thinking here? What kind of pose is this? Why, oh why, didn’t I tuck those arms in somewhere? Black fur and naked baby do not a beautiful portrait make.
Now I prefer to work with the baby…and capture them in more natural poses. Poses that will bring back a rush of memories to the mom and dad viewing these photos. I love to capture the light as it spills over the baby, enhancing the wrinkles and dimples and new baby-ness. I love to capture the unique relationships in families. This is the newborn photography I love today.
Back in 2009 I also had no idea how to pose for maternity sessions. Here, stand and look at me…now smile. A cute enough snapshot, but not the makings of beautiful wall art. Now I try to capture the essence of family in a single frame.
I strive to capture the family interactions and relationships. To me, these images speaks volumes about these growing families.
And birth? It is my favorite type of photography. Calvin’s birth (above) was the first birth I ever photographed. In fact, it was the first birth I ever attended that wasn’t one of my own children. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had the enthusiasm and a desire to learn. I still love the photos from his birth. It captures the love and emotion…but I am so much more comfortable in the birth environment now.
Dozens of births later, I have gained confidence and skill. I have shot home births, birth center births, hospital births and even a c-section. I work to capture the individual story of each baby’s birth; not a preconceived script. I am not writing the story, I am providing the visuals. The tangible memories.
I have adopted this same view with my personal photos. I try to capture the story as it unfolds; not write the script. These moments, these photos are treasures to me. These are the moments I want to remember.
I was inspired to write this post by Light, a new camera technology that just hit the market. I am hoping to get my hands on one of these later this year and see how it works.
How has your idea of photography changed over the years? Do you have favorite photos from your childhood? Which ones are they?