Updated: Dec 8, 2018
How I went from, "I photograph anything but people", to Portrait Photographer.
Every photographer's journey starts somewhere. From their first camera, to their first experience in the darkroom seeing images come to life before their eyes, to an influential person in their lives. Most journeys, however, typically start a lot earlier in life than mine did.
The Summer of 2009 was difficult in many ways. Both college-aged children were out of state at school, I had to put my 15-year old dog down due to health issues, and even though I was married at the time, I felt very lonely. I needed a hobby to fill the void and photography seemed like a good option so I bought a camera - a Nikon D60.
“I think of photography like therapy.” - Harry Gruyaert
I spent the next few years learning how to use my camera, taking classes on the fundamentals of photography, photography software, and more. I read books on color, composition, and the exposure triangle. It was easy to find subjects to photograph in my house, the yard, a park, on vacation, etc. Since I was shooting for myself, I couldn't disappoint anyone. I was the only person I had to please.
With a desire to grow my knowledge and skills further, I joined the Dallas Camera Club in 2011. There I learned from some incredibly talented photographers about all different types of photography, got critical feedback on my own images by participating in monthly competitions, and took my Photoshop skills to the next level.
In 2014 I discovered photographers Brooke Shaden and Sue Bryce through CreativeLive, an online site for creatives of all types. Brooke created thought-provoking, often dark, images with layered graphics that drew me in. Sue Bryce was an award-winning portrait photographer that not only encouraged and taught other portrait photographers how to build their skills, but also how to market themselves, promote and grow their businesses, and value their self-worth.
I started experimenting by joining a friend at his portraits shoots, using his lighting equipment and models. Learning about all the various lighting and lighting techniques proved to be a challenge, but not nearly as difficult as posing a subject. I was often reminded of why I used to say, "I photograph anything but people." Because when you photograph people, you must please them much more than yourself.
My First Studio Shoot
In February of 2016 I held my first studio shoot. I somehow convinced one of my sisters, my niece (her daughter) and my son's girlfriend to be my models. My good friend (and amazing photographer) assisted, coached and supported me. He threw dresses, hair and feathers all in the name of creativity.
I learned a lot of things from that shoot. You can't do it alone. Family and friends are gold. You never stop learning. Dream big, but appreciate the journey regardless of how far you get. Natural light is God light. And it turns out, I love to photograph people.