How did I come to where I am today?
This article is about my journey up till now. What kept me motivated? What frustrated me? Learn more about my journey.
When people hear my story about the short time I have spent with photography in general and horse photography in particular, they sometimes wonder how I came so fast to my level. And it might seem like it went all smooth and fast forward. The opposite has been the case. When I look back at my journey, there was minimum as much frustration as wins. Sometimes even more. And there have been breaks; you have no idea. Sometimes I couldn’t touch my camera for months! And I still have that. Sometimes, after a very intense shooting time, I put my camera in the closet and don’t want to touch it for quite a while. But I think that’s a topic for another blog post.
What I want to share with you here is my feeling about on how frightening it can be to start up a whole new profession and how rewarding on the other side when one then can see the progress.
How did my journey start?
I started by buying my camera end of 2019. A small Canon EOS 450D, already around ten years old at that time. With it came two lenses: The kit lens with 18-55 mm and another one I can’t even remember because it broke after a short time. So I had my camera without the slightest idea what to do with it. I started with a mix of everything. Landscape, people, objects in my apartment, and of course, my dog Toffee. Soon I realized that this was the area I felt the most interested in. But my pictures didn’t entirely turn out as I wished them to. I started in automatic mode, followed by the “special modes” that came with the camera, like sport or portrait. But still, the pictures were blurry, dark, and not what I wished them to be.
So I started to google. I watched YouTube videos and read blog articles about aperture, shutter speed, ISO settings, and how it all works together. And I entered the field of pet photography. What lens should I use? What kind of aperture creates an excellent background? Which shutter speed do I need to use to create a sharp picture?
I invested in a new (secondhand) lens, a 70 – 200 4.5, and was so sure, that I had figured it all out. Now my pictures should become beautiful and perfect! Guess what? They didn’t.
I was frustrated. Did I really have to buy an expensive camera and even more expensive lenses to create the pictures I wished to take? I was studying then; my bartender job brought just enough money for Toffee and me to live. Expensive equipment was definitely not in the budget. So I put my camera in the closet and left the topic for a while.
Photography - the patient hobby
Luckily, photography is a very patient hobby. A horse or a dog you must take care of constantly. When it comes to sports, you will lose your training status if you don’t exercise regularly. But a camera can lay in your closet for months without consequences. You won’t improve in that time, but you will also not get worse.
So I left it there. I needed a break. All that effort for – nothing? But I am luckily a pretty resilient person. Okay, I cannot buy expensive equipment. But what about borrowing? I started to borrow different lenses from friends and family to figure out what I needed. I tried all kinds, from wide-angle to the 300 mm zoom lens. Of course, my camera body was still what it was, but a better lens can really make a difference!
I started to take some pictures I really liked. The fire was on again.
Knowledge is key
In 2020 I invested in quite some photography online courses. Still cheaper than new equipment, I learned to max out my camera and the setup I had. I realized that having, let's say, less professional equipment makes you understand the craft the hard way. And I started to take on the challenge instead of complaining about it. Meanwhile, I fought with my basic equipment; I already planned what I wanted to invest in as soon as possible.
Finally, it was time: In 2021, two new lenses and a new body became part of my equipment, step by step. The Canon 5D Mark IV and a Canon 70-200 2.8 were the combination I had dreamed of for so long. I entered a whole new area of possibilities. Light situations that were not even remotely possible became suddenly easy. The joystick for the focus field opened new ways of composition. While enjoying my new toys, I continued studying a lot. Especially my skills in Photoshop and Lightroom were something I developed at that time.
My debut as a photographer
At the beginning of 2022, I decided it was time to use the skills I had built up so far and increase the shutter count of my camera as much as possible. In January, I had my first photo session with a person and her horse whom I had never met—followed by countless more. I am not saying that it has been an easy way still. I had many ups and downs, situations that were tricky, and frustrating hours while editing. But I found my drive. Forward is the only way. And if I have a picture that did not turn out as I wished it to, I will try again. I can see my enormous growth in the last year, and I look forward to where this journey goes further.
What comes next?
To be honest – I don’t know. I enjoy paid shootings as much as free projects. I love to take pictures of dogs, as well as I do with horses. Classical portraits can be as stunning as creative fine art shots for me. I will enjoy the ride and continue being surprised by what comes next. The only thing I know for sure is: This is just the beginning!
I am looking forward to having you with me on my journey.