A huge turning point in my photography was a class by the fabulous Audrey Woulard which was almost exactly a year ago. While organising some family photos for a project, I just stumbled on the first project from that class which was of my kids coming back from grocery shopping. While Audrey is a master at finding great light, we were also working on focus, location, and composition. I can still remember thinking “Backup, get lower but don’t bend over, don’t overexpose, and try to find variety.” It’s alot to remember when you are shooting fast moving small ones. The other extremely important thing about this “shoot” is that it was the very first time someone told me to trust my eye and I believed it! When you are learning to take photos, you absorb all sorts of information, styles, tips etc. Most of us try it all on and see what we like. And since while you are trying to find your eye and your style you are still making tons of mistakes technically because you are LEARNING – it is very hard to trust you have an eye at all. I had photographed my kids on this derelict yet charming corner numerous times. I loved this corner. I loved the relic of the building, I loved the colors, the edginess, the contrast of young life against age. And I loved the light. But most children’s photographers photograph kids in parks, gardens and fields. And I love those photos too. But my heart and eye liked this. And because I was still working so hard on technical skills it was very hard to see if this location was rubbish or golden.
But along comes this little practice shoot with the technical advice to do it better than any other day and a fabulous instructor whose words “That location is GOLDEN!! Can you go back there? Do it again!” jumped off the page at me and straight into my heart. And I haven’t looked back. I agree that we all need to find our own voice and that listening to others’ opinions sometimes works against the creative force. But seriously – we all want to feel validated. And when you find an instructor who you know wants to help you find your style, eye and voice and they validate your choices – it can launch your photography into a whole new world. And that is what this little shoot did for me. It is by no means perfect and I am still learning so much but I do tend to trust my eye. And I am forever grateful for that.
It wasn’t but a few days later I took the photo below, in the same location, on another walk to the grocery store. My son just happened to sit down and I happened to have my camera. If I hadn’t felt confident to trust my eye I might not have snapped this photo. Which went on to win first place in a recent competition. And I only say that because we all get stuck in ruts and feel like we are producing rubbish at whatever we are doing. This little shoot reminded me how important it is to keep going, and learning and seeking out people you know can bolster you up and not pull you down.
And best of all is how these photos make me smile. A year later, I totally remember that rather mundane afternoon. The treasure box my daughter carried around in plastic bag. The urgent need to park on the bench which is literally only a few meters from our house. The joy in just playing around in the neighbourhood with nowhere to go.
I am so thankful for my photography journey, the people that have played a roll in it and photos like these that capture our days. Thanks for reading!
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