Jan 30, 2011

A Book Review

    A couple days after Christmas, I opened a package from my best friend, and curled up with the treasure I found inside the box.

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     Mary Whitney {my best friend from high school, sending Christmas gifts from Ft. Bragg, NC, where she serves in the Army} must be a mind reader. I tried to remember if I shared with her any of my struggles with photography in the weeks leading to Christmas. Nope, I no I didn’t..so I’ll happily blame this one on the Holy Spirit & a best friend’s intuition. I’m not ashamed to admit that I judged this book by it’s cover, and when I finished reading it an hour later, my first impressions were dead on. This book is wonderful. Food for my weary photographer’s soul. A collaborative effort from the Shutter Sisters, this book was split up into chapters titled Horizons, Portraiture, Nature, Spaces, Childhood, Stillness, Documentary, Creatures, Table & Togetherness.  Each chapter then highlights different photography elements such as lighting, composition, approach and perspective. Being the faces gal that I am, I quickly flipped to the chapter on portraits. Here I encountered photographs with soft focus, unusual composition, less than ideal lighting, and SO MUCH HEART. I read quotes like “what we are really looking for when we take portraits is a connection” and “there is no right or wrong way to process an image. You are the artist, so the final image should be to your own personal liking” The book focused on expression, emotion, documentation and inspiration. Technical aspects and {as the editor Tracy called it} the science of photography were a mere mention.

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     It is no secret that I have not been doing a lot of photo shoots recently. During my last year of college, I experienced what I call an early life crisis {which will be blogged about once I get the courage}. To distract myself, I began taking pictures with the Nikon D40 my parents gave to me for Christmas that year. I took pictures of kids, babies, friends, family. It WAS distracting, and therapeutic and instilled confidence in myself that had been lost. Then people started noticing my pictures and telling me they were good, then they started asking if I would take pictures for them, then I began to notice how some people make money taking pictures. So, the girl who went through what felt like an early life crisis says bingo! Enter portfolio building photo-shoots with family and friends, camera manual reading, learning to shoot in manual mode, learning photoshop, setting up a blog, reading, reading, reading,  and workshop attending. Enter bigger, better camera, new lenses, professional photographer online forum, photo-shoots with strangers, business- learning, finances-understanding, more reading and learning. At this stage you can now enter stress, fear, ignorance, insecurity, and discontent. So much so that unless I was going to do a photo-shoot, I never even touched my camera. My big beautiful camera that I saved up for. I never took pictures for my own enjoyment.

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     Then I read this book. And I couldn’t deny it anymore. Couldn’t keep pretending to be enjoying what I was doing, hoping that eventually I would like it or even know what I was doing. Here is the honest truth… To begin, I’m not a business woman by any means. I don’t care too much about perfect white balance, I like grainy photographs, I hate correcting color and skin tones, and me and photoshop ain’t exactly best buds. I was even nauseated by all the obsessively perfectly composed portraits, white balance, composition and focus on the professional photography site I was a part of.  In fact, all those factors were like big photography fun vacuums for me.  To go into business, you must provide your client with the best images, that are professionally retouched and enhanced..it is what they deserve and what they are paying for. Along with your confidence, skill, knowledge and consistent results. Me and photography business are no match right now. I know I can deliver great photographs, but I am doing any clients {and myself} an injustice when my heart is really not in it.

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      After reading this book, I am off to make use of my big, beautiful D300 for myself {and loved ones}. To learn how to shoot with my heart, prepped with emotion and memory cards~ to document the daily, snapping with my own artistic expression. Thank you, sweet shutter sisters, for teaching me what photography is really all about.

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