My Personal Photography Journey

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In honor of my 3rd year of shooting in manual mode, some of our fabulous contributors decided to join in and show you their journey. I love looking at this as it shows how we all start at the same place but with practice and dedication you will grow! Thanks for sharing your journey, Melissa!

This was the beginning of my journey. Although I had my camera the two years prior to this, I didn’t bother to learn manual mode till my daughter was born. This was a fun year to look back on. Anything and everything I learned I was eager to try and honestly I probably used each technique more than needed.

I really had no idea how to use light when I first started. I knew that I didn’t want to be out in the sun and that shade was better. What I didn’t understand at the time was that I wanted open shade. Instead I found the darkest spot and stuck my daughter there.

Most of my work this year was how to use my camera. It didn’t leave much time for me to really understand photoshop. I’d learn new techniques like vignettes, color pops and skin smoothing and applied them with a heavy hand. Unfortunately the results were less than stellar but eventually I learned how to soften them up.

This year things really started to change for me. I found Clickin’ Moms, invested in a lens other than my kit lens and did workshop after workshop. Things started changing for me.

I figured out how to use light and use it to my advantage. My obsession for backlighting started with Clickin Mom’s Natural Light 101 class. It also helped me understand window light, which was huge in helping capturing my daughter on a every day bases.

Later in the year I took Shooting 301: Composition and Creativity and really started to challenge myself. I worked with compositions and telling a story with my photos.

This past year has been about finding myself and what I want to get out of my images. I’ve worked hard with composition, finding new ways to tell my story. Worked with my editing to find the style I like to achieve. But mostly just having fun taking shots of my little lady.

Share this with your friends! Thanks!

  • September 14, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    I absolutely love that image of your daughter with the black background. I know theres a way to achieve this when its daylight. Care to explain how you got this image..I would love to try it on my son! Beautiful work btw!

    • September 14, 2012 at 12:17 PM

      I have no problem sharing my set up. This was shot during the day. I placed my daughter next to our sliding glass door and closed all window light and lights on in my house. I only opned our curtain about a foot or two just to have direct light coming down on her face. Then I placed a chair with a dark towel behind her to remove all objects from the background. Metered for the brightest spot on her face and captured this image. The left side wasn’t completely dark SOOC so I darked that area up in Photoshop.

      Also a good tip, have a toy for them to play with. My daughter wouldn’t sit still so I grabbed her little toy drum. I played and interacted with her a bit until she was happy sitting there and then shot away. Hope this helps!

  • Taylor McAnally
    September 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Loved this. SO helpful and inspiring. I need to do these workshops :)

    • September 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      Yes! I highly recommend these workshops. The information and feedback you get from the instructors is amazing. You grow so much in four weeks!

  • Kim
    September 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    I loved reading about your photography journey, Melissa. You know I love your work!!!! And little A is positively preciousl

    • September 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      Oh Kim you are sweet. Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

  • Jen Jentz
    September 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Oh Melissa, I loved looking through all of your beautiful images and reading about your journey!! You do amazing work – I’ve got my eye on you!! <3

    • September 14, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Thank you Jen! You are so sweet!

  • September 14, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I love the shot of your daughters legs…..with the dorothy costume! What kind of lens did you use for that and how were you positioned to take that photo? I’ve always loved those feet/leg shots i see but i can never get my little ones to sit still long enough and the photos always come out to “posed” if that makes sense.

    • September 14, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      Hi Erica! I used my 24-70mm for that shot. That is a great lens to take out and about when I’m not sure how I’ll be able to shoot. I was actually laying on the ground for that shot. My husband was slightly embarassed with me on the ground in front of all of our neighbors. Hehe I just ran really far a head of her and got into position. It was tricky but she was only one for this shot and wasn’t that fast.

  • Andrea
    September 14, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Thank you for sharing this! It is inspiring and gives me hope that one day my pictures will be breathtaking as yours are (especially, the one of your daughter running on the beach!)

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Thank you for the sweet comment Andrea!

  • September 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Melissa, Did you have a certain shutter speed or aperture to darken the background? Also was your daughter sitting infront of the sliding glass door or to the side of it? Thanks for the info!

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Hey Lani! The sliding glass door was to my right, her left. I’m actually going to do a tutorial on this for my next post since so many are interested. So be on the look out for it int hte next couple weeks. :)

  • September 14, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Also do you have any Canon gear for sale?

  • September 14, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    I love your pictures, you are such an inspiration for me to become a better photographer. I shoot mainly pictures of my daughter as well so its great to see some of the beautiful shots you have that I can strive for as she gets older. :)

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      Thank you so much Megan for your sweet comment!

  • Cristin
    September 14, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Did you see that Shooting 301: Composition and Creativity sold out in 71 seconds yesterday?!?! I was so set on taking this WS, especially since CM isn’t offering it again until late Spring 2013. Unfortunately, I let the opinion of others make that decision for me. Lesson learned. When someone says YOU CAN”T they really mean THEY CAN”T.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! It’s always so exciting to see that seasoned pros started out just like everyone else!

    • Courtney
      September 14, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Aww, I’m sorry to hear someone persuaded you to not take Shooting 301: Composition and Creativity! It is definitely an amazing workshop and I totally think you can do it!

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      I did see how quickly it sold out. I’m sorry someone presuaded you not to take it. I agree with Courtney, you can definitely do it! Make sure to have that calender marked next year. :) Thank you for your sweet comments.

  • September 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    It’s so fun to see proof of your photo journey! wow, you’ve come a long way lady! Nice job.

  • September 14, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Melissa!!! What a great progression! There are NOT as many doozies as I have! And what a nice response from everyone! :)

  • September 14, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Sooo inspiring! I have just joined Clickin Moms and am overwhelmed by the info ….lots to learn!

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      I totally understand being overwhelmed, I was very overwhelmed when I first joined. Just pick a area you want to work on and start with that. The search tool is your best friend on that forum. Glad you joined the community, you are going to love it!

  • Christina Dawson
    September 14, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    What a difference in such a short time! As other’s have said… you are truly inspiring! Your 2012 photos look amazing! How did you take the black and white photo of your daughter this year? Did you have a black background? What kind of lighting did you use? What settings did you use on your camera? Did you do much photo editing afterward? Sorry for all the questions. :) Thank you for your post!

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      Hi Christina, thank you for your kind words. I’ve gotten a lot of questions on that photo so I plan to do a tutorial on it for my next post. Make sure to check back and I’ll make sure to address all your questions!

      • Christina Dawson
        September 17, 2012 at 10:37 PM

        Wonderful! Thank you for doing that! I look forward to reading it!

  • September 15, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    I love seeing how other photographers improve and change over the years. Seeing how far someone has come in their journey is always so inspiring!

  • September 22, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    Gorgeous photos, shows real growth from when you first started!

  • Robin Troxell
    September 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    what an inspirational journey – your photos are amazing! I love the storytelling photos too. Keep up the photography exploration, you have a gift!

  • Karen
    September 25, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Love your photos! I’m always amazed at shots of people with the sunlight behind them, but I have trouble with this type of scene. How did you get the image of your daughter on a bike with the light behind her? Love your blog!!

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