Behind the Lens | Growth
If you're a photographer, then I'm sure you've found yourself caught between "wow, look how far I've come" and "I'll never be as good as -fill in the blank-". We're always progressing and growing, and yet it's so easy to look at those who inspire us and let admiration turn to self-criticism. As a self-taught photographer, I have always strived to continually grow and learn, try new things, seek advice and critique, improve, and work hard to be able to produce the images I saw in my head. I set out to learn how to really use my camera and made it my mission to understand the variances between the light at different times of day, the intricate components of perfect exposure and how to process an image without compromising its integrity. It's always been hard not to let self-doubt creep up on me, and oh - how I've often wished I had a framed degree on the wall that could justify to myself - and to others - that I was, indeed, a photographer. But I have continued to push forward, to grow. And now when I look back on my early work, in addition to cringing a little, I can't help but smile at how far I've come. I certainly have not "arrived" - and I hope I never do. The journey continues and there is much growing left to do. But it certainly is encouraging to see progress in my photography.
This collage was put together to illustrate just what a difference two years of learning, searching, trying, failing, asking and growing can make. When you simply let time pass, nothing happens. But when you actively seek to improve and learn, time can be a powerful tool. That bottom row does not represent perfection, but for me, it represents growth.
To photographers just starting out: I often get messages from photographers just starting their journey asking for advice and critique. I am always so astounded, because it's crazy to think that I can be an inspiration to someone else, but I am also always so touched and honoured. And I do try and respond to as many messages as I can! To all those photographers out there doubting whether or not you'll ever achieve your goals, look at the comparison above and take heart. Time and practice really is a winning formula. Don't give up. Keep trying. Keep growing. Don't ever get too comfortable, and don't ever stop chasing that perfect light, emotion and technique that will take your photography to the next level. I know I won't!
To my clients: Thank you. Thank you for believing in me as I learn and grow. Stick with me and I promise next year your photos will be even better. To the Charlebois family pictured above, thank you for your loyalty and your support when I was just starting out. And thank you for coming back to see me.
To photography enthusiasts: The two sessions above were both shot with a "fancy camera". A good photograph doesn't come from a good camera, it comes from a good photographer. It comes from time spent learning, it comes from an understanding of technique, light, composition, exposure, posing and post-processing. I still love those first images I took. But when I look back on them, I am able to identify many areas that needed improvement. Even though they were taken with an impressive piece of equipment. Just like two years from now, I'm sure I will look back on my work and see how far I'll have come. Please remember that the camera does not make the photographer. Look beyond the equipment.
To everyone: Let's always remember to celebrate our small victories, our improvements, our successes. Let's always keep pressing forward, never giving up on our dreams, and not allowing someone's else's perceived success to become our failure*. It's been said that comparison is the thief of joy*, and this is SO true. Let's be happy with how far we've come without being complacent, and let's admire the talent around us without being self-critical. Deal?
*These are my fragmented versions of two inspirational quotes I've heard in the past. I have no idea who said them, but didn't want to take credit for clever wording that isn't mine!