Learning to Shoot

I got my “fancy” camera (a Canon Rebel t3i) back when I started blogging in 2011. (Side note, how in the world have I been blogging for 8 years?!) I intended to use it to shoot better outfit photos but didn’t have much use for it other than that. For years, I took it out a few times a month, snapped a few shots and back to the closet it went.

And then in 2014, I became a mom to a cute little boy you may have been introduced to - Henry. Around the three month mark, I decided to dust off my fancy camera and take some shots of him. These shots are some of the first I took of him with the camera.

At that point, I could feel my interest in photography begin to grow right along with this tiny human. I started playing around with the settings and my angles and tried to get better. But the one thing I didn’t do was invest in my education surrounding photography. I’ve always been a “figure it out on my own” type of person and I just assumed that’s what I would do with this new hobby.

For the next few years, that’s exactly what I did. And I got better and better at it. I’m proud of how far I had come just through trial and error and a Google search here and there. My Instagram feeds shows my progress over the years. And below are a few of my favorite photos from Henry’s third year on Earth.

These pictures are still some of my very favorites, but I still needed more knowledge. I wanted to develop MY style, something that when you looked at an image you immediately knew it was one of mine.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby two, something stirred in me. I had really fallen in love with the art of photography and capturing my growing family in new ways. I found I had a talent for seeking out the every day activities that make up life, the big and small, the ones that you never want to forget. And for the first time, I decided to invest at the end of 2017. I had learned about a program called Shoot Along that focused on teaching you, step by step, the basics of photography and gradually expanding your knowledge. It was a 52 week course and I genuinely wasn’t sure how much I would get out of it, since I had been teaching myself the basics for the past few years. I also wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep up with 52 weeks, but I was determined to learn more.

I talked with my mom about it. She had been encouraging my talents along the way, in that great way that moms do, and I asked if she’d consider helping me pay for it as a Christmas present. She agreed and I signed up, so eager to get started in January 2018.

As soon as the class started, I became diligent about reading each week’s lesson and doing the exercises that came with it. And so often, I would read a lesson and a lightbulb would go off explaining to me why I had never been able to get the exact look I wanted - but now I could. Throughout those 52 weeks, I did my best to keep up (though sometimes pregnancy got the best of me), and before the year was even up, I could see how dramatically my photography had changed.

It was also around this time that friends had begun asking me if I’d take pictures of THEIR families, something I had never before given thought to and wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I genuinely thought my photography talents only extended to my family and that was it. But, they kept asking, my mom kept pushing, and finally I decided to just give it a shot (no pun intended). I’ve since photographed six families in the last six months, with 5 more lined up. I had no idea how much I’d enjoy getting to capture the moments of everyday life for other families!

The Shoot Along class ended in December 2018 and since then I feel fully confident in what I can do with a camera. I even decided to further invest in my skills and upgraded my camera to a Canon Rebel t6i. I still have more to learn and I’m constantly reading more, taking more courses, and practicing, practicing, practicing (which you’ll likely see if you follow me on Instagram). But I can honestly say, had it not been for the Shoot Along class, I would never have pictures like the ones below.

I finally have a voice and a style. I finally feel confident when I take out my camera that I’m usually going to get the shot that I want. I understand the exposure triangle, how to capture kids who are non-stop moving, and where the best light in my house is. I am so thankful that I decided to invest in ME. It’s been 8 years in the making but I’m so thankful to each and every step.

Shoot Along has opened its doors again (but only until May 5th) for both its 52 week course as well as a 10 week course. I became an affiliate for them after being so thrilled with my own results. If you’re interested in learning more about the program, I highly recommend it. Click here to learn more. Please note, I am not being paid for this post. I am truly, genuinely thrilled with this course and recommend it to anyone looking to take their photography to the next level.