Showing “then vs. now” photos is a little scary. As every photographer does, especially within the first few years, I grew… A LOT. I’ve vastly improved my skills in both shooting and editing, and have refined my style. I like to show my progress to encourage other photographers that it is possible to improve with practice and experience.
Of course, I don’t want my early clients to feel like I’m no longer happy with the work I provided to them. They all hired me for my skill and style at the time. So I’m proud of the early photos for the reason that I had people hiring me for my work. (And my prices were significantly lower at the time, as they should have been.) I don’t show my older work in my portfolio because it doesn’t represent my current body of work, but nonetheless, I’m grateful for those clients who took a chance on me, especially those who have continued to hire me each year since. Without those clients, my business would not have continued.
A little history: I’ve always aspired to be a photographer, even since I was a young child. I didn’t know anything about photography at the time, but I began taking photos of sunsets, my pets, and things in nature around age 8 (with our family’s point-and-shoot Minolta film camera, of course). I told people I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up. I entered my work in the 4-H photography project. I even started dabbling in Photoshop (a very early version) when I was 12. As I got older I began to recognize that certain photos had “a professional look” to them, and was curious to learn how to do that. When college came around, I enrolled in as many photography classes I could take, and became armed with new knowledge and the drive to improve my skills. After college I purchased my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel with some kit lenses, from Craigslist. I then met a local photographer, Michelle Tease, who hired me on as her photo editor. It was such a great opportunity, and she became my mentor and friend. I was devastated when she told me they were moving to California. But it was the push that I needed to start my own business.
I came to realize that what it really takes for growth is experience, and recognizing that you have room to improve. Whether this growth takes months or years depends on the photographer, and it won’t happen overnight. I started my business in 2011, and I noticed that my most significant growth occurred between 2012 and 2014. I refined my editing style the most between 2015 and 2016.
I look at these early photos, slightly embarrassed at how many technical mistakes I made. At the time, I thought they were amazing photos! But that lighting… those funky angles… that weird colored editing… what was I thinking? I worked hard to recognize my mistakes and to correct them, and I grew with each session I did. I am proud that now I am able to provide my clients with gorgeous images that are technically sound, and in a consistent style. I’m hoping to always keep learning and improving as much as I possibly can!