Friday, July 11, 2014

Then & Now | Personal

In the Q&A, I was asked if I could post some of my early photos, contrasted with my current work and talk about how I improved. I hope you're ready for this. :-) I'm only agreeing to this because everyone has to start somewhere, and I've been encouraged by seeing some old work of my favorite photographers and realizing, "They used to take pictures like that, and look where they are now!"

You could go back in the archives of this blog and find some pretty old work of mine, but I'm going even further back with this post. There aren't too many cringe-worthy shots on the blog; though you can go back to when I didn't really have a consistent editing style and was playing around with vintage filters, etc. I also didn't do a lot of portraits back then; I was still really into nature photography. Here I'm going back to the first time I remember taking portraits and feeling happy with them. This was in 2009, doing updated portraits for my sister (to give to grandparents, etc.). Pretty much any portraits I shot back then were of my sister. She was very patient. :-)

This shot was my "money shot" from the day. I was really proud of this. I liked the setting, the pose, and oddly enough, the light. I'm not sure why, since looking at it now half of her face is underexposed and the other half is blown out. :-)

So how did I go from that... to this?

I think the biggest thing that pushed me forward and helped me to improve was immersion in good photography. I found some photographers I liked and began to follow their work. The first photographer I followed was Jessica Shae - before that, I didn't even know there were photography blogs. :-) After a while there were several blogs I read, and then I found Katelyn James, and her style really clicked with me. She was very similar to what I was going for, but just hadn't perfected yet. So, not to say that I was totally copying other people; but I was constantly exposed to examples of good photography - good composition, white balance, and exposure, consistent editing, analyzing the light. It rubs off on you.

Beyond that, one of the best things that I ever did was to take my camera off auto and put it on manual. I read some articles that helped me to understand the basics (I have linked all those articles on this pinterest board), but mostly it was trial and error, playing with the settings until I had them to my liking. After I had played with manual for a while I tried aperture priority mode, which did work pretty well, but last year I switched back to completely manual all the time and I have not gone back.

I hope you enjoyed (not sure if that's the right word... :-) this peek into my early forays into photography! I am grateful to the Lord for blessing me in developing my skills to where they are today (and hope to keep on improving!).


  1. Kathryn, thanks for sharing! You've really come along way. Would you consider doing a workshop experience sometime?

    Your pointers about immersion in good photography and learning manual are so true!

    1. I am definitely considering a workshop sometime in the not-too-distant future!

  2. Thank you for sharing those early shots!! You have given me hope!!! :-)
    I had a question - I photographed a Ladies' Day at our church last month. The pictures of food and the general layout came out clear, but the pictures I took of people posing on a bench, for the most part were a little fuzzy. People were on a white bench, with a trellis behind them, and the walls (it's a gym) are covered in a horrible brown carpet. What did I do wrong, or what should I have done differently? I have a Nikon D50, so I know it's not the camera's fault.
    Thanks so much, Kathryn!

  3. I was wondering if you started out with a point and shoot camera? If so, at what point did you upgrade to a nicer, more professional camera?

    1. I have always been blessed to shoot with a DSLR. I first picked up photography using my mom's camera, a Rebel XT. When I turned 16, my parents gave me a Rebel XTi and I shot with that up through 2012, when I purchased my current camera, a Canon 60D.

  4. Thank you for showing this and being open to answer all our questions! It's sooo encouraging! I love Katelyn James too! That's part of why I love your photography-because it has a similar style. I'm having the most trouble in the editing area now that I've started to master light…;)


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