My Story (Part One) + Why I'm Launching Online Training
It sounds a little dramatic to say that photography changed my life but it really did in so many ways. From small, but really important, ways such as changing how I look at everyday life (everything is a photo opportunity!) to the really big change of having my own business and all that that has lead to, winning a major national award, being in various local newspapers several times, a magazine feature and even a radio appearance. One of the best things about photography for me is the people that I get to meet, whether that's my clients or people who volunteer for my Fifty Portraits project, I've photographed so many wonderful people who tell me their stories. It might be stories of their family or their horses or their business, but whatever their stories may be, I love to hear them and they inspire my photography.
I often get asked about my story, about how I became interested in photography and how I came to launch my business. Its mostly a story of random chains of events but I'm a great believer in things happening for a reason, call it fate or whatever you prefer but I landed here by chance rather than plans or ambition.
And here are two facts you may find interesting :
Prior to 2008 I had ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in photography or any other remotely creative pastime, I considered myself to have a mathematical, analytic mind that just wasn't suited to anything creative.
At no point in my life prior to 2012 did I ever consider the possibility of self employment, I had never had the slightest inclination to start a business and fully intended to keep on working for others until I retired. In April 2012 I launched my business !
I will confess however that whilst I may not have ever planned on running a business I did spend a very long time just knowing that there was something different that I was "supposed" to be doing, I worked as a Financial Controller (I'm a part qualified accountant) but constantly battled a nagging feeling that I should be doing something completely different. I often told people and was always asked what that different thing was and my answer was always the same "I have no idea but when I work it out I'll retrain if I need to". I'd have laughed at anyone who suggested photography - but no-one did, because I have this mathematical, analytical mind remember!
Anyway, back to the random chains of events - 2006, just before Christmas, I'd been working a lot of extra hours and had more money than usual due in my wage. This wasn't the norm for me, any overtime was usually unpaid. I was Christmas shopping in town with my hubby, again not the norm, he doesn't usually Christmas shop with me. I walked along a stretch of a road I don't normally walk along and happened to look in the window of a camera shop, again not something I would usually do, remember I'm not creative. Before I know it hubby is saying "you should treat yourself with that extra money" and very shortly after I'm the proud owner of the latest Fuji compact camera, with a whopping 6.9 megapixels !
Initially I hardly used it, a few family snaps at Christmas and the odd photo whilst we were on holiday - I'm almost too embarrassed to share these but here is a random selection from my very earliest pictures, these are some of the oldest on my hard drive, all taken in 2007. They all have one thing in common, they are incredibly boring!
It's safe to say that at this point I wasn't really inspiring myself with my images !
Fast forward to early 2008 and I started to take the camera along with me when I went for a walk and from time to time I'd manage to take the odd image that I quite liked, more by good luck than anything else, but that was enough to kick start the photography bug. I started to photograph anything and everything and a camera upgrade soon followed along with a quest to learn as much as I could. With the help of books and magazines I eventually came to understand all those baffling terms you read in photography magazines, it was a long process but I also mastered my camera, learned how to shoot in different modes, how to override exposure, what white balance and ISO meant.
But I still wasn't happy, I had a goal and that goal was to create an image that was good enough to go on the wall and so I enrolled with the Open College of the Arts so I could learn even more. I truly believed that if I took one wall worthy picture that I would have reached a point where I was happy with my work and that I wouldn't need to learn any more or develop any further.
From the oldest pictures on my hard drive to the newest, and a lesson learned - every time I take my camera out I am capable of creating images that can go on a wall (and if I'm shooting for a client they do go on a wall, every time) but I now know that there is no point where I will be able to say that I don't want to continue to learn and develop my skills. The day I decide there's no room to develop further will be the day I give up !
So why online photography training for beginners ? Because photography is a wonderful hobby, when that bug bites you just want to photograph everything. You start to see differently, to notice ordinary everyday things in a different way and to become inspired by the simplest of things, it could be the shape or texture of an everyday object or just the way the light falls in a room at a certain time of day, the simplest of things can become quite magical. But if you just can't master your camera and capture that little moment in the way you imagined that bubble might burst, you might lose interest before you really got started, you might pack away that camera and let it gather dust.
I want to motivate others to get the photography bug, to not give up and to be inspired by their everyday surroundings and so I decided to gather together my knowledge and share it in an eight week online course "Beyond Auto".
The first session of Beyond Auto starts next Wednesday, as well as eight weekly emails packed full of learning and exercises to help you get to grips with your camera there will be three months of personal support from myself via a private Facebook group.
Want to know more ? There's more info here or you can email me via the contact page.
If you are ready to register you can click here - registration closes on Monday 27th.
In Part Two of my story I'll tell you about how I went from photographing whatever took my fancy when I was out walking to facing a fear (yes really, a fear) of photographing people and further random events that lead me to start a business.
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