Reflecting: My First Photo Shoot
Now that we’re at the start of a new year, a lot of people are looking forward. They’re making resolutions, and are ready to put 2010 behind them and focus on their goals for 2011. While I’m doing the same, I’d like to take a brief moment to reflect on the past. All of my goals for 2011 essentially revolve around photography, so it’s only right that I reflect on what brought me to this point.
I first became interested in photography in high school. I took a photography class in the 10th grade. *Begin sounding like an old man* Back then, we didn’t have digital cameras. We shot with film, and learned how to develop it in a dark room. I still remember the smell of those chemicals, and how it lingered on my fingertips. *End sounding like an old man*
Fast forward to either Dec 2006 or 2007. I got a digital camera for Christmas, and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I went EVERYWHERE with that thing. I did my own form of “urban exploring” (I hate that term), and photographed a bunch of Detroit’s shambled landmarks. I would go out in the cold of the Detroit winter night and spend hours taking pictures – without gloves on – until I could no longer feel my fingers. Then, one day, my camera got stolen out of my friend’s car by the valet at one of the many strip clubs we hit that night. lol I didn’t realize it was gone until the morning, so I had no clue which valet could have possibly taken it. Color me “devastated.” I got another one that I still have to this day (the LCD screen is cracked), but I had been bitten by the photography bug. I could no longer continue living using a mere point-and-shoot.
I decided that I wanted a dSLR camera, and I began my research. My research didn’t so much focus on what camera I wanted to get. That was the easy party. I needed to learn about photography. I needed to learn about composition, framing, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, how they worked with one another, how to manually adjust these functions on a pro-level dSLR, etc. I downloaded book after book after book (I don’t buy shit), and did not even CONSIDER purchasing a camera until I felt I was ready. No. Wait. I bought 1 book. lol Due to a series of events that, at the time, seemed like the greatest of misfortunes, I stumbled upon the money to buy the camera.
Once I had my camera, I began learning how to use it. Once I learned how to use it, it was time to take some pictures! I walked around my neighborhood taking pictures, but I was only delaying the inevitable. I knew I wanted to photograph people, but I was nervous and had no one to shoot. Enter Kay, the individual pictured above. She was a coworker of my fiancé’s. I asked if I could shoot her, just for practice, and before I knew it, I had my first “client.”
After the shoot was over, I thought, “That went well.” I was wrong. That shoot was a train wreck. For starters, she showed up to the shoot looking homely as hell. LOL! I thought, “OK. Really? What part of, ‘I want to photograph you’ did you not understand? Did you just get out of the bed? It’s 1pm. I can see that I’ve already got my work cut out for me.” Additionally, I was making all kinds of technical mistakes while shooting. You can read all the books you want, but you’ll never learn until you actually get out there and DO it. I thought I was ready for this shoot, yet I found myself with shots that were so over-exposed, and I had no clue why. (I know why NOW, but I’ll spare you the geeky details.) Finally, my post production skills were nonexistent. I had Lightroom and Photoshop, and no clue how to use them. I didn’t even know what they did. Contrast? What’s that? I was shooting RAW, so my images were at their most basic form. I had all the wiggle room in the world to alter them, and no clue how to do it. The image above was retouched to look as it does now a mere couple of months ago.
Despite all of my troubles, I was able to salvage this one image. I love how her hair is blowing in the wind, and her eyes are simply stunning. I have nothing to do with either of those things – lightning struck in my favor – but still, I like this image. 🙂 I’ve learned a lot in the years since this shoot. I still make mistakes to this very day, but I’ll never make the mistakes I made THAT day. You live and you learn. If it were not for this shoot, I would not be the photographer I am today. For that, I am grateful.