Friday, January 22, 2010

The Making Of A Photographer . . .

This is a story about when I first noticed light, subject, composition in a photograph. And how I later became a photographer.

I received a Pentax SLR as a birthday present one year. One summer, I was visiting at my sister's house and had brought my camera along. While standing in her back yard with my camera in hand, I noticed some crab apples on one of her trees. So I took several photos at different angles of these crab apples hanging on that crab apple tree. Several days later I dropped the film off at the camera shop and several days after I got the prints back. I thumbed through all of the images until I got to the images of the crab apples. I thought to myself how great looking those crab apples looked. How the light made them stand out yet there was a soft feeling to the photo too. I just loved those images of those crab apples. I would go back through the images time and time again studying the composition, the light, the setting. Then one day I got to thinking perhaps I should shoot more photos of the outdoors.

At the same time, I decided if I was going to shoot more outdoor images, I wanted to learn to shoot slide film because I noticed on professional photographers' websites they used slide film to photograph those beautiful images of the mountains and the valleys and the forests. So I bought some slide film.

At the same time I had been reading about composition and light and crafting an image. So I took my camera with my slide film and drove to the Bluegrass Region in Kentucky with its beautiful horse farms, what I today consider my backyard, literally less than an hour's drive away, and I drove up and down and up and down and up and down the byway. Time and time and time again. I would scout scenes to photograph. I would stop along the road when I saw something interesting to photograph. And I shot and I shot and I shot.

Then I bought a tripod because I noticed on those same photographers' websites they used tripods to take the vibration out of photographing an image. Again, I took my camera, my slide film and my tripod and I went back to the horse farms and I drove up and down and up and down and up and down again. And I shot and I shot and I shot again. I repeated this process many, many, many times over and over. I can't emphasize that enough. I don't recall how many rolls of slide film I went through during that time, but it was a lot.

I practiced shooting the light, crafting the image, studying what would make the best composition. And I would shoot and process the slides at my local camera store and pick them up and look at them through my loupe. I would pitch the images I didn't like. The ones with bad lighting, bad composition, just plain bad photography. And I kept the images I liked. The ones with just the right light, the perfect composition, the image that told a story. Those images I kept.

I kept up this practice for several years varying my destination. Driving to the Hocking Hills, in Ohio, driving to Mustatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, in central Indiana, driving to Clifty Falls State Park, in southern Indiana. Driving anywhere I could find a natural scene to photograph.

Until one day, a thought came to mind . . . I'm a photographer!

It has to begin somewhere and this is how it began for me. I felt compelled to share this story with you. While it is simply a story of a photographer, it's my story of how I became an outdoor photographer.


  1. Carol, I'm so glad you shared the path you took to become a photographer. Practice does make perfect, I guess. I've developed a recent passion for picture-taking. I come to your blog not only to see another wonderfully composed and shot image, but to learn, so that my own techniques can improve. Your photographs are luminous, and they definitely do tell a story.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story Carol. I also am learning photography, every day. I enjoy your photography and have learned some and got ideas from them.

  3. Always good to hear a photographer's story - thanks for sharing! Just went to the Hocking Hills today myself - hope to share a few of those images soon. Take care!