- Tamara Duffy
Then & Now
When summer hits, it's always fun to look back over the past 9 months to see how my kids have grown throughout the school year. I know as adults we really don't change a whole lot in comparison to our ever growing children. Yet when you take the time to look, you will be surprised to find that indeed, you do grow.
Once in a blue moon, it's fun to look back and see how far my photography skills have developed over the years.
It used to feel embarrassing to look back at my "Cowboy" attempt. Although for a photographer just starting out, I think I did a good job. Funny enough, I relied heavily on natural lighting from the big windows in my studio. That was weather dependant because if you have heavy overcast day or a storm rolling through, it gets dark and it stays that way. I remember clearing out my living room for a session with my amazon quality backdrop stand and a pile of pillows that anything but support those wee little babies. With my little Nikon D3100 crop sensor DSLR camera, it worked, and I made it look magical... Somehow.
However, I would like to add how backwards I approached newborn photography. Generally when you start out, you spend hours researching about the things you need (besides your camera) and then you find a mentor that walks you through the poses (that cost starts at $1,500 folks!) and then you do model calls until you're blue in the face and then you do more. Don't forget Photoshop - that's another wormhole! From there, you begin your business and build on.
Not for me. I started backwards. I started with Photoshop first. I love working with Photoshop and I already had plenty of experience using it with my photography as a hobby. Then I got caught up in another universe of photography called Digital Composite Work.
Digital composites are where baby's photo is placed onto another photo and designed with skills to make it all look real.
When I discovered this artwork I was HOOKED - down the "hyper focused worm hole" I go.
Honestly though, at the beginning I had absolutely no idea of how to pose a baby. That great learning curve of posing baby came well after I mastered the digital composition. That's when I realized I had to get my photos sharp as a tack and find a mentor that can coach me into proper posing techniques. That was a very long process of learning, skill building and perseverance when the going got tough.
Posing babies isn't always easy, especially when they're gassy - and giving up is the easy way out.
I have spoke with many wedding photographers who say they'd rather put up with an angry bride over a screaming baby - I'll choose the latter any day.
There was one concept I just couldn't quite grasp at the beginning. At the time, I loved colour contrast and how bright saturated pinks and purples looked. I wanted to bring in colour saturation so it would be an acceptable standard to my photographic style. I looked at other newborn profiles, and I found the colours dull and not appealing to me.
Over the years, I have learned it's not about my taste. It's about what suits the baby best. From white to the the neutral shades to the dark blues, burgundy and grey, each colour I select for use in my studio is chosen carefully so it will compliment baby's skin tone. After all, when you look at a newborn portrait, the first thing you should see is the baby - not the colour.
The world of photography is "an ocean" of learning. When you've invested so much of your time and your savings, then there was no way out. The only way was go up, get better and constantly improve my work.
Does it stop there?
Here's a list of things I've had to learn on my own and to be honest (without proper support and resources), it feels like I'm looking for my keys in a very dark room:
-Accounting and Finance
-Sales and Customer Service
-IT Technical Support
and the list continues...
Just don't forget the photography.
When I look at that list, I feel empowered that I have done all this on my own.
Above it all, I just want to be in my studio creating portraits that parents will gush over for decades to come.
One thing about being a photographer is that you never stop learning. From learning a brand new camera (that's just as challenging as it is fun), to learning new tricks in studio as well as new adaptations in Photoshop. It does not stop there.
My good friend Denise is one of my trusted mentors and she always says; "learn something new every day". She's right. This hands on learning experience of photography changes constantly, not just with photography alone but behind the scenes too. So the next time you see a photographer, please take consideration to not only their photography skill sets but, to all the wonderful things they do behind the camera.
Thanks for reading my blog!