"I don't want to be a photographer"

“I don’t want to be a photographer.” 

My friend told me that at this point in her life, she was so busy with life and kids, that pursuing photography didn’t make sense for her.

I remember feeling like that. I had taken a photography course in university, and learned about shutter speed, aperture, ISO and the like. We used film and learned how to develop in the darkroom. It was super fun, but all a lot of work, and to me, quite technical! As the years passed, I had young children, my life got busy, and I forgot all about how to use the settings on my camera.

I would look at the images from my point-and-shoot camera, with red eyes from flash, strange color casts, and blurry photos. I really wanted to take better photos, but I didn’t want to “be” a photographer.

In a search for help to take better photos of my kids, I ended up taking a 3 day photography course, and I unexpectedly found a passion that I wasn’t even looking for. I wonder how many of you may find the same (maybe even my friend who told me she didn’t want to be a photographer).

Want to hear my story?

I had two small kids, and a new DSLR camera, but couldn’t get off the green box (auto) mode of my camera. I didn’t love the results in low-light situations, when the flash would pop up on my camera, creating strange shadows, red eyes, and deer-in-the-headlight facial expressions. 

I signed up for a three day photography workshop. A lot of what they taught me went over my head, but I learned a few simple things such as the importance of having a subject in your photo (that the viewer’s eye is drawn towards), how to shoot in aperture priority mode, and how to stop the flash from popping up when you don’t want it to. 

I invested in a 50mm 1.8 lens for $100 and learned that even my cheap DSLR that took terrible photos indoors with a flash, could now take beautiful low-light photos, just from changing my lens and learning how to turn off the flash. I learned how to edit using a free editing program on my computer.

The biggest help?  I just started shooting. The sheer volume of shots that I took ensured that some of them turned out great! I learned from my mistakes.

I started volunteering to just take photos at birthday parties, events, and even some small weddings. I learned how to shoot in manual mode, and how to choose my focus point so I had full control of my camera.  I learned how to edit in Lightroom. Next thing you know, I was upgrading my gear, second-shooting at weddings, and before you knew it, I had a photography business!

The photography business helped us pay for the initial launch of our non-profit here in Fiji, and has been an incredible blessing in my life. It’s  provided a second stream of income that helps pay for gear and travel, but more than that, it’s connected me with people that I never would have met outside of photography. The connection and joy I’ve found was completely unexpected, and entirely a gift from God.

. . . . . . . .

Even if all you have is a phone camera right now, you too can improve your photography! You too  can find photography to be a point of real-life connection. You don’t have to become a professional photographer to invest your time into improving your photography and capturing images of life and people around you. And who knows, you may find something unexpected!

If you have kids, use the camera as a point of connection. Make the photos into a fun game. Or, create a tender moment when you get down eye-level with your child and show your child that you truly see them and love them. Tell them that you want to remember them like they are right now, forever. Another approach to try: hang back a little bit when they’re playing or just living life, and take some candid shots. The day-to-day mundane won’t always look the same, and you’ll be glad you captured your “real life” as it is right now.

If you don’t have kids, try some candid shots of someone else in your family. Maybe ask your mother if you can take her portrait. Time keeps ticking on, doesn’t it? I’ve never regretted taking an intentional photo of my parents (especially for those of  us who have lost parents). If you don't do this now, when will you?

I promise you won’t regret it. You don’t have to be a “professional” photographer to just BE a "life" photographer. So get out that camera and take some photos today!

~ Laura


My "Looking for the Light: Photography & Life" online course will launch in 2021. Are you interested in learning more about photography? Click below to view more about the course.

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