Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just for fun: My thoughts on photography

  If you have known me long you know I have never been able to sit still and do just one thing for long. I've worked since I was 15 and had a babysitting business even before then. And most of the time, since turning 17, graduating high school early, I've worked at least two jobs at once. So it doesn't surprise me that even now, in motherhood, I manage to put too much on my place. Some work to put food on the table, and other "work" to have fun.

Bow from Swan Lake Etc.

When I first moved to Texas I moved without my husband. I didn't know anyone, so I went out with Snoop a lot. And when we weren't out, and I wasn't at work, I was making him coordinating dog collars and leashes. It was my new-learned hobby. A creative outlet for me to try something new and share with strangers I met on the dog park.

"Cute collar!"
 "Thanks, I made it!" I felt so cool having a new talent!
Photo by Katie Harris
But soon after my husband and I moved back in together, I stopped going out, and I stopped making custom collars for my Snoop dog. Poor thing. ... More on him at a later date.

About that time I also started another hobby to get my creative juices going. This blog. I wasn't feeling fulfilled writing 90 second stories at work, so I wrote here too.

Then I got pregnant and made tutus and mobiles and leg warmers and hair bows. I can't imagine what it would be like to have time to do all of those things again. I can't as much as bust out some scissors without Lil' J squealing to play too.--Which would be bad.

So what's the next most fun thing to do when you're a mom? Besides buying things for your little one to wear, or making things for them?--Taking photos of them wearing cute things of course!

I bought my DSLR before our baby-makin' journey began. My photos started out pretty crap-tastic, but hey, they looked good to me. It was better than I was getting from my point-and-shoot, so I didn't know any better.

My weekly maternity photos started out looking like this:
Not good. I was shooting in automatic, with a flash, there were horrible shadows, yada yada yada. I thought my pictures looked better but I wasn't using my camera to the fullest of it's ability.

Right before Lil' J was born I started to shoot less in Automatic, and more in semi-auto, but using some of the manual settings too. My photos started to get a little better. They were coming out more like this:
Hospital gown from Hot Mama Gowns
Then after she was born I got a 50mm lens and they got a little better. And started to look like this:
About this time I started to learn it's not all about the camera and the gear, it's about the person behind the lens too. I get several emails or comments a week asking what camera I use, what lens I use etc. I'm not shy about the equipment I use. You can see what's in my camera bag. And I ask other photographers what lens or camera they use when I notice a specific look I like. Now people say "It's not the camera it's the photographer." And I kind of believe this and I kind of don't. Here's my theory...

If you buy a new camera thinking your photos are going to look just like mine, or someone elses who has a certain camera, you may be surprised to find that your photos don't look like theirs. You may not. You may be happy with how yours turn out. But it takes practice to get better. An expensive camera doesn't automatically = good photos. That said, I do think once you've mastered certain things upgrades are warranted.
If it were all about the photographer and none about the camera, the pros wouldn't be using bigger, nicer cameras, they'd be using the bottom of the line DSLR's and wouldn't have any need to upgrade. Of course, if a pro used my camera they'd be able to take a much better shot of than I would under the same conditions. I'm not going to discredit myself and say my photos come out well because of my gear, I'll admit I have learned some skill, but I am taking much better photos now thanks to getting a DSLR camera and some nice lenses to compliment it (lenses more so than the body make a bigger difference for photo outcomes).

The biggest help has been learning to shoot in manual. Learning about ISOs, depth of field, my f-stops, and focal lengths, learning about those things, reading manuals, and other tips online has helped me improve A LOT.
And I'm saying all of this to say I have a new hobby, and it's photography. Mostly just pictures of Lil' J, but it's fun photographing other people and things too. I took these pictures for a friend. This mom wanted photos with her son so they can look back and see that she was with him (as moms we are usually snapping the photos, not in them all of the time). It was so strange seeing new faces pop up on my camera screen. And it was fun feeling like I was helping someone else get nice photos they otherwise may not be able to get.
I don't have a desire to start a photography business. For one, everyone else already has one, and two, I don't want to end up on Actually, I check out that site from time to time to get a good laugh, but I don't think I'm that bad, but I'm also not a pro.

I do think I've gotten a lot better though, and I'm using my bit of talent to help Lil' J get discovered by some major baby commercial company. I'm hoping someday Baby Gap, or Old Navy to give us a call (wink wink), so she can model for them and save for her college fund. More on my stage-mom crazies later (I'm kind of kidding, so don't freak out!). But for now, until she makes it to the big times, I'm her photographer, agent, and manager, and she's doing some Etsy and boutique modeling here and there. (By the way if you're interested in getting your baby involved in this too, click Model Source ad in my sidebar and tell them I sent you! Or ask a question in the comments and I'd be happy to reply!)

It's so fun taking her out to different spots and trying a new theme for a photo shoots. Like this one, a boutique asked for photos on a farm:
Ruffle butt onesie from Birthday Couture
 Or this one asking for photos on the University of Texas campus.
Tutu and bow from For Your Princess Designs
And we have some other fun ones coming up. I want to get better. I want to get so much better, and take photos of pretty food, and places, and things, and other people besides my baby--But I'm taking baby steps. For now I'm self-taught, but I'd love to take a class, and continue to see how I grow.

I'm busy doing two million things every day, and sometimes it's hard to keep up with all of my responsibilities. But when I get home and pick up my camera to capture my daughter's laugh, or milestone, it just doesn't feel like work.

It's a good feeling doing something just for fun.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home