Discovering the Joy in Photography

Monday, November 10, 2014

There's a quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson that says "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." As someone who is relatively (read very) new to the world of photography, I'm inclined to agree...

Ever since I started considering Communications as a possible future career, I knew I needed to get more familiar with photography. The visual aspect of an advertisement, magazine article, or blog post is just as important as the textual aspect, but it's not one I have much experience with.

The first time I was ever really happy with a picture I personally took was two or three years ago. I had found a beautiful, purple flower growing in between the slats of our fence, and it absolutely begged to be photographed. I took our little point-and-shoot out and spent the next half an hour in our backyard trying to capture the beauty of this little flower.

My first "real" picture.
I was so pleased with how this picture turned out, but the next time I picked up the camera, the end result just didn't seem as good. I'm one of those people who hates to be seen doing anything they're not already good at, so after a few disappointing attempts, I sort of gave up.

At the time, I didn't have much motivation for improving. My plans were to study nursing, not communications, and as far as I know, being a skilled photographer isn't required for a nursing degree.

Then my plans started changing...

As my vision for the future began to evolve into something resembling what it is now, I started looking at the camera again. I noticed how much better my blog posts looked with images to accompany them, and I began to consider the idea of taking my own pictures.

My first blog post to be accompanied by my own personal photos was a recent one about decluttering my room. The pictures were quite obviously nothing fancy- half of them were taken on an iPad and set to black-and-white to mask the weird quality.

But it felt so good to have a blog post where everything belonged to me. The pictures, the editing, the post itself... I loved the experience of broadening my horizons and trying out new things.

So obviously, when I went with a friend to the arboretum, I brought the camera along. We were there for a few hours, and I got to take lots of pictures

While we were there, I never really had the opportunity to look at what I'd taken. It was quite sunny out, so I couldn't see the display screen. Additionally, we were trying to keep up with a fairly ADHD nine year old... So as long as the picture didn't seem too blurry or dark, I moved on

As a result, I had really no idea if I would actually have any usable pictures.

So you can imagine how happy I was to get home and find that I actually liked what I was looking at. Were they all winners? Not by a long shot. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! But even my incredibly perfectionist self could appreciate that there were actually some OK pictures in there- especially for being an amateur with a point-and-shoot!

And then I discovered the wonders of editing...

That branch sticking up out of her head? If I crop it down right, it's not so noticeable. Too dark? Adjust the exposure! Slightly blurry? Make it black-and-white and suddenly it's an artistic statement! Add text, and I've got a great blog graphic.

I can take these little moments that I loved and capture them in a single frame of time so other people can share in them, too. All those times my dad made me stand still for a photograph or made us wait so he could take a picture of that flower... I finally get it.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the arboretum-

Some highly photogenic flowers.
A pumpkin tower.

My little sister being cute.

My little sister being... cold. And still cute!

This is me figuring out how to use the "close-up" mode.

I definitely have a lot to learn about taking consistently good pictures. For instance, don't forget to look and see if there's a tree sticking out of your subject's head! But now that I've discovered how much fun it can be, I'm actually looking forward to it.


Today, my question for is which of these pictures is your favorite? What tips would you give me for improving? Be sure to leave your response in the comment section below or over at my Facebook page! It absolutely makes my day to see that one of you lovely readers had something to say.

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  1. I love the purple flowers and the pumpkin tower; but your little sister IS a cutie! Thanks for sharing - and for reminding me that I DID want to see your post! I love taking photos; and I take A LOT of, editing and picking out the best are great ways to get only the best...but as a scrapbooker...I always want to put ALL of my pictures in scrapbooks! But I do pick and choose the best...

  2. I love the highly photogenic flowers and the pumpkin tower. Your sister also IS a cutie and is very photogenic. I love taking pictures myself and love experimenting and learning as I take my pictures. I graduated with a communications degree from college.

  3. Welcome to the world of obsessive photo taking ;). I think I have about 40,000 shots on my computer (that's the joy of digital--there's no 'waste'--every shot is a learning experience that only costs time). My advice to you? Learn your camera well--know how to use all of the settings (manual and automatic). Shoot in RAW instead of JPEG (you can do more adjusting). Invest in a good photo editing program like Adobe Lightroom (and tag your photos from the beginning--it makes it much easier to find them later ;) ). Experiment with perspective--my family has gotten accustomed to seeing me sprawled out on the ground in order to get a good shot ;). There is definitely something VERY satisfying about having everything on one's blog be one's own! Keep learning your craft :).

  4. I have been adding pictures to my posts also and it does help. I love the purple flower picture. I took the picture in my blog today at Santee Lakes. I love working in

  5. Found you through Barbara's blog and I'm so glad I WILL become hooked on photography! I love all your photos but my favourite is your sister when she's cold - for the emotions/feelings you captured in it...