I’m On a Mission

I take lots of pictures.

Notice I did not say, I’m a photographer.

When my oldest son was born, Gil and I had a decent digital camera. It was a Fuji, point and shoot, and it was fine for my limited technical knowledge.

I found the baby phase a little tedious. Obviously I adored my children, but I didn’t find eat, play, sleep all that thrilling, and I longed for the days when my young cherubs turned into people with whom I could interact. They also didn’t sleep much. Therefore I spent most of my days in a state of utter exhaustion, and frankly I was a little bored. Babies are cute, but they don’t do much and are a lot of work. I know that many women feel very differently about the baby phase. My friends and I discuss this frequently. I don’t mean to be critical of babies. If you love them, great. It just wasn’t my favorite time as a mother.

One activity I did enjoy back then was taking pictures of my babies. It forced me to be in the moment, which was often a difficult task in those early days of parenting. This is where I had planned to insert a baby pic of Piers taken with the Fuji, but they’re on an external hard drive so for the sake of time, I’ll have to put it up later.

Gil bought a DSLR camera in 2010 — a Nikon D5000. He was working on a project where clear pictures were necessary, so he justified spending an ungodly amount of money on a camera, extra lenses, a tripod, and one of those fancy flashes.

Let’s just say that the two of us disagreed on how much photography material was absolutely necessary.

I have to hand it to him, though. His pictures are amazing.

But they’re all of buildings and construction sites. He and I have noticed that he takes great pictures of objects while I do better with people. I have plenty of theories on why this is true, but a lot of it has to do with where our interests lie. I could do an entire post on this subject.

I learned that if we were going to get our money’s worth out of this fancy camera and all the accessories, I would have to become the family photographer.

I have yet to master this task. I still take lots of pictures, only now I do so with a nice camera that I don’t really know how to use. Gil occasionally still takes photographs for work, but for the most part I’m the one who uses the camera.

I love to go out and take pictures, but I don’t enjoy sitting down and learning how the camera works. However, I’m discovering that if my pictures are going to ever get better, a little studying is essential.

Over the weekend I was telling Gil that what I find most frustrating about photography is that thus far I have been unable to get consistently good pictures in Manual mode. Therefore, I hang out in Automatic a lot.

I’m not getting the benefit of a good camera. I might as well be using the camera on my phone.

So… I’ve committed to shooting in Manual and I’m going to learn the ins and outs of my camera. I have a few books and reference guides, and I’ll share more about those later. I’d also love any of your recommendations.

One of my biggest inspirations has been Maggie Carlise. Maggie is an incredible writer who has recently taken an interest in photography and she writes candidly about her journey.

Maggie puts herself out there and shows her photographs as she’s learning. I’m drawn to her writing style, and I love seeing her photography evolve. She has a great eye and I have no doubt that she will become an amazing photographer. She’s inspired me to put on my student hat and go for it. Thanks to Maggie, I’m less afraid to just do it. She also writes about art, conscious uncoupling, and other cool topics. Check out her work here. You won’t regret it.

Another inspiration has been the lovely Lehua who blogs over at aMusing Spirit. I’ve followed her blog for a couple of years now. When I first “met” her she was recently divorced and living in her native Hawaii. I was instantly taken with her uplifting messages and her photography was phenomenal. It did’t hurt that her backdrop was the unmatchable terrain of the breathtaking Pacific island.

I’ve come to know her as a brilliant, creative, and compassiate woman, regardless of her circumstances. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is quick to offer a kind word to those around her. Her blog currently focuses on her life in California, mostly through photography. Her photographs are captivating and unique and always leave me wanting more. Have a look. You’ll be glad you did!

Thank you to Maggie and Lehua. The beauty you both create is truly inspiring.

Stay tuned as I share some of my blurry Manual shots from the weekend. And I’d love to hear from others photographers — pros, experts, advanced beginners, novices. I need all the tips I can get!

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4 thoughts on “I’m On a Mission

  1. Wow! Thank you SO MUCH!

    I have to tell you, I’ve had a little anxiety lately about “the future” and all that. I really do feel that I’m on the right course…but sometimes it’s a little nerve-wracking, how far down the road “security” and “success” (if those ever even come) are. Normally I see it (the unknown, the question marks) as a challenge; the drive to prove myself (to myself even) can be empowering. But sometimes it can just be scary!!

    I think I maybe just needed a little bit of validation to get me over the hump here – and you totally just gave me that! Thank you so much for what you said.

    And I’m so excited you’re starting to dig in to photography! I’m really looking forward to seeing what you produce!

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    • Aww. This makes me really happy — I’m glad I made a point to actually type out how I was feeling. So often I think something but get distracted and don’t take the time to let the person I’m thinking about know.

      I also understand the frustration of not knowing whether or not all the effort you’re putting into something is worth it. I also struggle with those pesky questions — am I just wasting time and hurting myself in the long run by being risky when I could be sticking with something safer? I’ve been feeling that way about several things in my life lately.

      And then what do I do? I decide I want to dive in to photography. Ha! For me, though, I think my interest in photography has to do with the fact that it’s something I’ve wanted to learn more about for a long time, and I always put it off.

      I spend a little time with my camera but my pictures never get better because I can’t commit to working on it regularly — for me it’s more that I need to learn and then apply. And rather than impulsively picking up my camera and snapping pictures or reading everything I can get my hands on about photography, I need to do a little of both REGULARLY. That’s what I mean by learn and then apply.

      We’ll see. I haven’t exactly decided how to go about all of this yet. I think for now it will mean taking more pictures and maybe writing a post once a week or so and posting a few pictures so I can see my progress. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to another blog that’s just photography. But we’ll see.

      I can sometimes get so obsessed with something that it’s all I can think about. I’m constantly having to reel myself back to reality for the sake of balance. Sigh…

      Sorry for the book. I really meant what I said. You have inspired me, so again. Thank you!!

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  2. Today I dropped my baby off for his first day of Kindergarten, my eldest off at First Grade, & I’ve been teary all morning. This post made me smile. Then I got to the part where you named me and I became verclempt. (It has apparently worn off)

    Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m excited you’re venturing off Manual. It’s frustrating in the beginning but you’ll get it.

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    • Awww. I did the same a couple of weeks ago. My baby’s in kindergarten too. It was tough. I hope he has a wonderful day and I’ll be thinking of you and sending you good vibes. I meant every word I said. Thinking of you and thanks again for the inspiration!

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