Education is the key in Photography | Amelia Island Photographer

I am not sure, once I write this blog, that I will actually publish it; however, if you are reading it then I was bold enough to publish it. I am going to give a little of my history in photography and how I became a photographer and then add a few thoughts at the end.

My photography business did not happen over night. In fact, I didn’t even go looking for a photography business, and, had you told me, when I was even a ’30 something’ that in my 40s I would be a professional photographer, I would have just laughed. -Not at you, but at the unlikely thought that I might actually be one of ‘those’.  After all, I didn’t have the ‘proper education,’ I would have said. Besides, photography is just a hobby for me. Music is my thing. I could see me using my musical ability and possibly getting a job as an assistant choir director, teacher, or other, but make a living with photography–really??? I mean–I had taken photography courses, and had YEARS of experience photographing my four guinea pigs–ahem, I mean children. (Yes–they put up with many a photographical experiment). But, the idea never even occurred to me that I would really be a professional photographer and have my own successful business in a little place called Amelia Island, FL.

I had taken several photography courses, prior to this revelation of becoming a photographer, in college and loved them. I took waaaay to many photos (as they were called then–not images) and have the albums full of 4 x 6 prints to prove it, along with boxes and boxes of negatives. I took all kinds of photos–baby and child (ours and friends’), family, landscape, architecture, sport–many sports; soccer, baseball, football, swimming, tennis, golf, surfing, skateboarding–anything my kids were involved in, I shot. And, as a bonus, I also photographed the other kids who were present for all of those sporting events. That was a lot of photographs folks, and a lot of money spent on 35mm film and developing. (I never had the pleasure of shooting medium format, but have always admired those who had and have).

Not only did I shoot those all those images, but also I analyzed each one’s aperture and shutter speed to see what I could do better next time. I checked the lighting situation and direction and I would spend hours writing down this information with every image I took. This was particularly true as my photography career was getting closer and closer, though I had no idea it was coming. By the time my career started, I was still quite unsure of where I was going with it. Sure, I was accepting money from those who wanted to pay me, but I really didn’t consider myself a photographer at that point in time, since I was still very much a hobbyist. I still didn’t feel as though I deserved that title, photographer. I thought the title was reserved for those who had spent a lifetime in school and in training in the photography industry, not someone like me. So, I thought, I better make sure I know what I am doing if this is really going to be. What did I do, you ask? I attended the local junior college and took a couple of in depth brush up courses on basic photography and photography, in general. It was a great move, but I still didn’t call myself a photographer.

Through the next several years, as I was in a full-blown photography business, I continued to take workshops, courses and anything that was available. Online courses weren’t even around at that time, or, if they were, I was totally unaware of them. Most learning came by practicing–still on my kids–as they didn’t require pay :). I have gorgeous kids; by the way–just ask me. I now have two very just-as-gorgeous granddaughters. Again, just ask me.

The question is when did I finally embrace the title of photographer? I had been in business for 5 years before I decided it was okay to take that title to heart. It is okay now, for me to say I am a photographer, and has been for quite sometime. I don’t feel, any longer, that I am stepping on anyone’s toes to have taken on that title. I don’t feel as though I slipped in the back door. I worked for it, I earned it and I embrace it. And…I have not yet arrived. I will forever be learning this field of photography, especially now, in this digital age. It has been a challenge to keep up with all the technology, but I have a pretty good handle on it. I can tell you one thing for sure. This technology won’t let this ’50 something’s’ brain rest for even a moment!

I listened to another online webinar today. The speaker so eloquently stated that today’s photographers are not competing against other photographers but against technology, itself. We spend hours and days in front of the computer, after shooting a session. It is definitely different from the ‘old days’. In those days, you checked your light meter, your shutter speed, your aperture and then took the shot, knowing you had a pretty good print coming back to you from the lab. Today, most photographers just check the back of their camera hoping that what they see is what they get on the computer when the image is downloaded, or if they don’t like what they see, they reshoot.

I saw a comment on FB just a few minutes ago, about how creative today’s photographers are. My thought about that was how much easier it is to be creative in today’s world when the only cost is the click of a shutter. Wow, times have changed! Today’s technology has opened the door for many new photographers. I see a new one every day, on FB. Pretty soon, I believe, there will be as many photographers as there are people :). Of course, most of these newbies didn’t wait 5 years to consider themselves photographers, nor should they be expected to, because of my own personal hang-up. They simply created a FB photography page and went to work. Shoot (no pun intended), they don’t even have a website. For some of those it works, for others–well, to be as nice as possible, it wouldn’t hurt if they took a couple of those ‘brush up’ courses, or maybe at least one course, or maybe just learned to find a focal spot in the image, before they attach the title photographer to their name. Again, as was said today, we compete against technology, not necessarily other photographers.

I, for one, don’t want to see this industry watered down. So, keep up the good work, fellow photographers, and those just coming on the scene. Quality – it does matter.

So, there you have it. I do hope there will always be a place for photographers such as myself and all those who were before me who created the path for the rest of us to follow. We/I appreciate their efforts in this industry and do not take it for granted.

Blessings…
Pam

Sharing a few images from a recent e-session I had the privilege of shooting. Love is in the air with these two, for sure!

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