I have had quite a few people ask me lots of questions about my photography lately, so I have decided to answer those questions here on my blog through a series of posts! With that said, if anyone has any questions about me or about photography that they want answered, don’t hesitate to ask!
Question #1: How did you get started in photography?
I will definitely answer that question with this post, but that isn’t my only reason for writing this, either. I hope that maybe some of you who are reading this and are aspiring photographers get some hope. I completely understand that getting into photography can be super difficult and frustrating, but I promise, it is worth it!
So, here goes!
It all started in 8th grade. I was in a class called GT, and had just finished a massive research project, when my teacher announced that it was up to each of us students what we wanted to study for the rest of the school year. I spent the next week or so just running through ideas, but I got nowhere. Nothing was catching my attention! Then, one day, my friend looked at me and said, “What if we study photography?” Instantly, I knew that’s what I wanted to study.
I had always been fascinated with photography, but I had never thought I could be a photographer. As I started studying photography, I fell in completely in love with it. I still remember the day that my teacher handed me her camera. I took photos of lockers and the fence outside the back of my school. I was so fascinated with the depth of field! I came home that day and took my little point and shoot out with my neighbor Kelsey, and I had my first “photoshoot” ever.
This is what I got:
I thought I was SO GOOD!!!! You guys, I am not even kidding. I honestly thought these photos were amazing. From this point on, I started taking photos pretty much everywhere I went. I didn’t really get any better, but I kept taking photos. For the next few years, I took lots and lots of photos (if you ask my dad, he will tell you I made our computer crash because I had too many photos on it). I even got hired from a few different people to take photos for them.
Turning point #1 came for me when I was a junior in high school. A lady that my family is friends with dropped a camera off to me. She said that her father-in-law had been a professional photographer and this was his old camera. She didn’t know how to use the camera, so I could use it, learn how to use it, then just teach her when I was done with it. This camera ended up being a huge blessing for me, but once again, I knew nothing about shooting in manual mode and I knew nothing about editing. I literally edited all of my photos on iPhoto. Knowing nothing then, it worked. Knowing what I know now, I was doing everything absolutely wrong.
In high school, I came across a few photographers that I loved, and I constantly stalked their blogs. My goal was to one day be as good as they were, and I always compared my photos to theirs. I thought I was so good at taking photos….until I compared mine to others. That was always a huge blow! I would find photos online that I liked and then try to recreate them. No matter what I did, I didn’t know how to edit my photos or how to even get the photo to look like theirs. I just really didn’t know anything more than just clicking a button and taking a photo.
However, one day in particular, I came across a post on Facebook that was obviously about me. Someone had posted about how horrible of a photographer I was, and even worse, there was a thread of comments all bashing my photography. I didn’t really know what to do, and I am pretty sure that I cried. I was trying so hard, and I genuinely thought I was so good! I knew I wasn’t the best, but I didn’t think I was horrible. It really made me so so so sad. [Now, I look back at the photos, and I understand that they really aren’t good at all, but I had to start somewhere. We all have to start somewhere. It’s literally impossible to pick up a camera and be amazing.]
Guys, I am not kidding when I say that my photos weren’t that good. Haha! I’m literally laughing as I go through these photos to prove my point. To prove this point, here are the photos that I took my first couple of years:
I even entered this one in a contest for Idaho and somehow won……this photo still hangs in a local hospital. Hahahaha….
As I spent more and more time taking photos, I would luckily learn random little tricks that helped me get better, but I didn’t take any photography classes, nor did I study anything about photography. I really didn’t know anything, and anything I did know had been learned by chance.
Turning point #2 for me came with this next photo. This was the first photo I ever took in complete shade. This was the day that I figured out that I thrived shooting in shade. I loved the clean look that shade gave you….no shadows. It quickly became my favorite. (Even to this day, I have people contact me and ask about my lighting and how I get it to be so perfect. The secret is I always shoot in shade. Like, I am a Nazi about it. I will not take a photo unless it isn’t in shade. It just isn’t my style.)
Despite the little things I learned, when I graduated high school, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. It had been four years, and I still was horrible. I felt like I was stuck. I didn’t know what else to do. I was sick of being below average, and I decided to stop. Not many people even know this, but when I moved to college, I completely stopped taking photos. I didn’t tell anyone I liked photography. In my head, that dream was over. SO, my camera sat in my closet for almost a year, nearly untouched. In my head, I was finished.
Then, in April, someone in my ward found out that I took photos, and they asked me to take their engagements. I explained that I wasn’t any good, but if they really wanted me to, I would. They insister, so, I did.
When I got home from their shoot, I was BEYOND frustrated. Once again, I had tried to recreate photos I had found online, but I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted. The photos just looked so bad! However, this shoot became very pivotal in my career. This was the shoot that helped me realize that photography truly was something that I loved. I wanted so badly to be good at it! I wanted to be like one of those photographers who everyone wanted to shoot their senior photos or their wedding! I wanted that so badly! I vowed in that moment to do whatever I could to become better.
I started with going to Allen’s Camera and buying a new camera and lens. I think I spent three hours in their store that day just quizzing them on different cameras. After lots of debating and phone calls with my dad, I settled on buying the Nikon D5200 and an 85mm lens. This was by far the largest purchase I had ever made in my life, and anyone who knows me knows that I am super thrifty and hate spending money. This was such a large decision for me! After I bought my camera, I came home and stared at the box for at least a week before I even told anyone I had bought it, let alone open the dang thing.
I bought it right around the time of finals, so it was almost summer break. I set a goal for myself to really focus on photography that summer and figure out my style. I spent every spare minute I had that summer taking photos and learning my editing. I started using Lightroom (seriously turning point #4. Lightroom changed my life). I would spend SO MUCH TIME editing each photo, and I was getting better at editing, but I still wasn’t in love with my editing. At work, each extra minute that I had, I stalked different photography blogs. I learned how to batch edit (what a time saver) and then I also discovered VSCO presets (turning point #5!). I worked and worked and worked until I understood Lightroom in and out so that I knew exactly how to edit my photos and exactly what I was doing to each of them! I started shooting weddings, and I think I shot five that summer and fall. I would go back and forth between loving my work and hating my work. To me, there was something missing! I just didn’t know quite what it was yet.
Then, I figured it out. TURNING POINT #6! In January of this year, I learned manual mode on my camera. HOW THE HECK DID I GO SO LONG WITH NOT KNOWING MANUAL MODE?? I do not know, but that was a game changer for me. In manual mode, you really control what your photo looks like! I now could manipulate my photos to get the lighting just the way I liked it! From here, I was able to really get my editing style down, and I even created my preset that worked for every photo that I took. (For those of you that are confused as to what a preset is, it is basically a button that I push that will automatically set certain settings that I pick for my photos. This saves me time, as well as makes all of my photos look the same. It gives me a style and a brand!)
It really was only about four or five months ago that I became 100% comfortable and satisfied with my editing. I finally reached the point where I had my own personal style. I was no longer trying to mimic another photographer at all! I was happy with my work, and it had taken me so long! Not only was I happy with it, but I literally know Lightroom like the back of my hand….no, I probably know Lightroom better than I know the back of my hand. So, now that I was comfortable with my work, I needed to figure out how to get my name out there.
First, I actually upgraded to a full-frame camera. I bought the Canon 6D and the Sigma Art 35mm lens. The quality of my photos and the beautiful skin tones were now amazing. It was such an amazing decision, and I don’t regret it for a second.
TURNING POINT #7! This is a big one! NETWORK! I really feel like my work took off when I decided to go to a local Instameet, which I actually won. I started branching out and collaborating with local photographers, stylists, makeup artists, musicians, and even models. I put so much time and effort into getting my name and brand out there! Seriously, I jumped at any chance I had to network. It gave me experience AND put me in contact with people who would ultimately put my name out there for me. My Instagram exploded, and I now have people stop me pretty regularly and ask if I am aliceshootspeople and then tell me they follow me. It’s super cool!
Now, people contact me from all over the country to photograph products for them! I love shooting weddings, and I booked around 15 wedding this year.
Like I said, I didn’t just pick up a camera one day and become good! It took a TON of time and effort! I cannot believe that I actually gave up at one point! I still have a lot to learn, but I think we always do. We should always be growing and learning! I truly believe (and people will disagree with me all the time on this) that anyone can be a photographer. As long as you are determined and willing to put in the research, time, and money, and don’t give up, you can do it. I 100% believe that, and if you don’t, just remember that I started here! These photos are taken in the exact same spot, just a few years apart: