I am going to tell you a story about a very good friend of mine. His name is Vladimir, and we met in London about 9 years ago.
Vladimir had something very unique, something I did not see in many people back then .... he was always happy, and had a great positive attitute towards anything that came his way.
Back when I first started to look into photography, I did not have much at my disposal. My first piece of kit was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 (if my memory serves me correctly), and a Nikon SB-600 speedlight (which is actually still my main flash unit, go figure).
One day I was talking to Vladimir, and the conversation went something like this:
Me: "I am studying a lot about photography, but I have nobody to take photos of, I really want to start practicing"
Vladimir: "Let's do it, lets go out and do a photoshoot, I will be your subject"
Me: "Cool, sure let's do it!"
And so we went out, to the southbank in London, right under the nose of Tower Bridge, and my amazing career as a photographer began.
I made things stupidly difficult by attempting these shots at 2 PM, with a very harsh sunlight, lesson learnt.
Vladimir was very cool about the whole thing, we took some portraits, and then we walked around until we reached the London Eye, and we got some more shots along the way.
To be honest, I was happy, I was happy that I was trying. I did not feel discouraged, and at this time in my life, I felt my photos were good, at least I was trying.
Then in the evening, I got the first photo I felt extremely proud of, the London eye on a long exposure of 25 seconds. This made my day worth it!.
All in a day's work.
I think Vladimir liked the photos, or at least he pretended to, I really did not care, I was happy!.
After a while, I started experimenting with techniques and compositions, not my brightest work, this is 8 years old. I got into HDR, got a couple of friends weddings on, and had my first attempt on creating a website, it was some experience, I will never forget it, and I am going to be completely honest, it was absolute shit, but I was proud of it, I was trying something new.
My HDR attempts were not that great, I blame the crappy software I was using back then (wink).
My website's portfolio looked something like this:
I had been working very hard on my portraits, and I was getting into lighting and techniques to make portraits nicer. I got my first ever off camera flash trigger, which had not TTL built in, since then, I started using manual settings for everything, it was hard, but I enjoyed it, because I learned how my camera worked, and I learned how to make the most of my lenses.
I upgraded the old Lumix for a Nikon D90, and after a while I got myself a Nikon D300S (2010), which is still my main camera. I decided to get a few lenses, and to this day prefer to buy new lenses to optimize my shots, rather than invest in a new camera. I am looking to replace my system for a Fujifilm X-T2, beautiful camera with amazing lenses. You can read full reviews of it by Zack Arias @ DedPxl here and here.
I started to get calls for weddings and events, mostly word of mouth, things were picking up and I was enjoying it, I was doing something I have loved for a very long time, ever since I was a kid and my dad would take us on vacation and shoot flowers and landscapes with his Canon SLR, using 35mm film. I think it was a Canon AT-1.
Things were going very well. I did some paid weddings and sports events (personal work), and a lot of different things. I started to feel more comfortable with my camera, I knew how it worked, I knew what it could do.
After about 4 years, around October 2012, things got really busy at work (I work in IT), and I sort of put my camera away for a while. Little did I know that while turned to months, then years.
I missed it, a lot.
During that time, I had 2 beautiful daughters, and it was them (plus my wife I have to admit) who got me back into taking photographs again, I did not want to miss those moments with the little ones, there are memories to be captured, moments to be inmortalized, so I started again to get into it, I took all my equipment out from under the bed, where it was hiding for years. I started to organize all my lenses, batteries, umbrellas and flashes, I got a few bits and pieces, and kicked it all off again.
This is when I started to get into portraits, and I studied again, I practiced a lot.
Annie Leibovitz said something very interesting on one of her master classes, she said 'Photograph the people close to you, your family, your friends', and so I did.
I got back in the game, I started working hard at it, and got my website going again, this time with a more mature approach, more sensible, more focused, something with structure, and something that I can be pround of.
I am enjoying every minute of it, and I know there are loads of challenges ahead, and I embrace them, one at the time, learning, applying myself, but also taking the time to understand how everything works, and how I can achieve what I set off to do.
The studying does not stop, I continue to grow and to learn.
I am a work in progress, and the adventure continues.
Work in Progress Photography Limited.