Creative Evolution

My Article  and Images as featured in Light & Landscape Magazine Issue 13

My journey into photography began five years ago. I live on the east coast of Florida with great beaches and the everglades. My full-time job is as an electronics technician–so, for me, the technical part of photography was easy to understand. But I realized there is more to photography than technical precision.

Along my way I have found several things that have helped me move from the technical to the creative.

I was so excited when I bought my first DSLR camera in 2011. I say first because there have been a few more since then, but I’ll get into that later. I was so excited and read the manual from front to back. I was ready to get started!

My place of work is located only a mile or two from the beach, so I started getting up early and shooting sunrise photos almost every day. On the weekends, I would travel to local hiking trails and shoot more photos. Pretty soon I had tons of photos, but had never shown them to anyone other than family and friends.

During this first year, I checked out nearly every book on the subject of photography at my local library. As time went on, I got caught up in the belief that better camera gear equals better photos. This gear fever went on for a while, but thankfully the fever broke before I went broke.

I started to think that maybe my money would be better spent on photo workshops. I attended several, offered by local professional photographers. Check your local newspaper and online for workshops in your area. They are usually low cost and provide hands-on individual attention and a structured learning experience on varied subjects from landscape to macro photography. But, I found the most value in the constructive feedback from an experienced photographer.

Joining a local camera club turned out to be pivotal in my growth as a photographer. The club offers field trips, monthly image sharing themes and the best part for me—networking with other photographers! Most camera clubs make connections with the community and are often invited to exhibit their work at various events.

Search your area for a camera club and join it! If there isn’t one in your area, you could start one through Meetup.com, Google+ or Facebook. There are also many helpful articles online about starting a camera club where you live.

I learned so much through exhibiting my photos. At first I participated in group shows and eventually I was offered my own show! It was challenging, choosing which images I wanted to share. I was initially filled with self-doubt as to whether they were even good enough to show to the public. At some point, though, I became comfortable enough to choose the photos I liked the best instead of the ones I thought were the most technically perfect.

With the help of constructive feedback from more experienced photographers, I found myself moving beyond the technical to find my own creative vision. Often, another photographer will show me an image, starting the conversation by saying, “I don’t think it’s sharp enough.” I am always amazed at this, but not surprised; because I was caught up in chasing the perfect look myself. I would get so focused on one aspect of an image, such as sharpness, and become blind to the more artful qualities, such as composition, line, shape, form and color. Keeping in mind these concepts, helps create a more personal, expressive image. For me, breaking free from a mind full of technical stuff: shutter speed, aperture, etc. has been a work in progress.

Over time and with experience, I have learned to connect with my own inner creative voice. The inner creative voice doesn’t make excuses, like– the light is bad, or there is nothing here worth photographing…feel free to add a few of your own. Since opening up and listening to that creative voice, I can honestly say I never have found a location where there is absolutely nothing to photograph. It may not be what I expected or what I originally hoped for, but that’s okay.

For me, the main thing is to be outside enjoying the fresh air, the sights and the sounds of nature. The camera is simply along for the ride. I love photography, but my main goal is to capture the splendor and beauty of my surroundings.

Sharing my work on my website and through exhibitions is fun. Hearing someone say, “I wish I could wake up that early! That is beautiful!” makes heading out before daybreak worthwhile, but the best part is simply being present in the moment, observing nature at work. When venturing out with your camera, I urge you to listen to the music of nature around you and to notice the daily dance of sun, moon and tide swirling around us, uninterrupted. It simply happens on its own and we are part of it. I attempt to capture and express these feelings through my images.

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