What moves a hobbyist to an enthusiast? And an enthusiast to an expert? I would say it all begins with a passion for and interest in whatever it is, and then developing the skills around that interest. Then improving and experimenting. Maybe coming up with your own unique style or “signature.” Then teaching.
Many may comment that the first time they held a camera, they had a passion which developed into a more refined art over time. Even those grainy pocket camera images taken during family vacations could be attributed to their love for photography and the beginning or continuum in a life-long passion. We all have to start somewhere. Our skills, equipment and post-editing software have continued to improve and develop, and if we were to put some of our recent images alongside some of our earlier images, we would see a marked improvement over time.
I’m wondering if there are others, like me, who have a moment or an image that began to define your interest beyond “someone who likes to take pictures?” If there was a moment when you went from the person at family events with the camera, to someone who considered themselves to be a photographer? Or you began to notice affirming and encouraging words from others who truly appreciated your talent?
My moment is connected to a sweet memory. I had planted a tree (Spring Snow non-fruit bearing Crab Apple) in memory of my daughter, Lindsey. It was April, 2006 when I looked out my window to see that it had bloomed practically overnight. It was close to what would have been Lindsey’s birthday, a few weeks later in May. My dad, who was a great influence in my interest in photography, passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2005. I inherited a Canon digital camera from him, which I soon discovered was really great at taking macro shots. With dad’s camera in hand, I went out back to admire Lindsey’s tree and snap some pics of the blooms. I don’t think I was on Facebook until 2009, so how I shared the images, I don’t remember. But I was flooded with comments that encouraged me to pursue and develop my interest in photography. And so I did. Because of that photo and the equipment I had, I found myself taking macro flower shots for a couple of years. You know, if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right? I put myself in the macro flower box and stayed there for a while. But I love flowers and loved that period of learning and growth. Eventually, I explored other topics — fall colors, sunsets, animals, food and stock images.
I think this will always be one of my favorite images because 1) it reminds me of Lindsey and 2) it triggered a more serious pursuit of something I was already passionate about.
Do you have a moment or image that moved you to the next level with your photography?