A little over a year ago, I got a digital SLR camera after feeling like one of the last bastions of the point-and-shoot in the blog world. I was instantly smitten with the weighty feel of the Nikon in my hands, the pleasing click of the shutter, and the crisp images.
I wandered around everywhere with the strap around my neck, first taking pictures of all the things you’d traditionally take photos of and then branching out to try to “find” beauty in those things I hadn’t normally noticed with a camera in hand.
And within the files and files of images, I began to find some gems. It seemed that I had something of an eye for photography. At least as an amateur, I was doing quite a good job.
I pondered taking a photography class back then, but I decided against it. I wanted to keep delighting in the process of taking pictures without worrying about whether I was doing things the “right” or “best” way. I didn’t want to know whether I was obeying the rule of thirds. I just wanted to know whether I liked my photo or not.
And that worked out just fine for a while. I even opened an etsy shop with postcards and notecards of my photography and participated in a craft show where I sold framed pieces of my work.
But in the last few months, I’ve begun to bump up against my limitations. I’ve begun to find myself in front of a beautiful scene, unable to capture it with my lens. I don’t know the best setting on the camera for a particular moment or why certain lighting gives me stellar images and other lighting can’t be managed even with a flash.
The tipping point came last week on my honeymoon in Hawaii. I snapped photo after photo of an absolutely stunning sunset, and I couldn’t get the lighting right no matter what random setting I tried. I couldn’t take a picture that showed it like it looked to me in that moment.
And that’s when I decided it was time to grow.
It was time to be thankful for whatever natural talent I have but also time to recognize that without some instruction and education, it can only take me so far.
As someone who battles perfectionist tendencies, I understand why I have been wary to take a photography class. I can get so caught up in rules that I forget my own joyful process. I was afraid that learning the rules of photography would rob me of something that I love. But in Hawaii, I realized that I’ve gotten to a point where my joyful process is being inhibited by my lack of education.
So I stopped by my local photography shop and picked up some brochures on their classes, and I’m signing up for Digital Photography 101. I’m going straight back to the beginning.
I’m trusting that there’s room in my creative process for both knowledge and joy.
Is there a place for growth in your creative process? Where have you reached limitations?