Upping my game

I talk about setting photography goals for myself frequently. I’ve decided to actually follow through with some of them over the course of the next year. 

My first goal is simply to be consistent and intentional with my photography. I’ve learned a lot about photography in the past year. Perhaps one of the most important things I’ve learned about photography is that each photographer needs to have his or her own style to stand out in any kind of meaningful way. To be noticed, a photographer needs to know what sort of photography they like to shoot and what style of images they like to publish. Over time a photographer establish a look that is their own, so that when people see it, they know that it is shot from that specific photographer.

One of my weaknesses as a photographer has been an inconsistent style of photography. I mean, I know what I like. I know what sorts of images I am drawn to. I know which photographs are my favorite that I’ve taken. But I’ve published all sorts of different images with all sorts of different edits and post-processing. The images in and of themselves might be good, but without a consistent look, I lose out on a huge piece of what it means to be a photographer or an artist these days. 

So, goal one is to establish a consistency within my published photography. 

Goal two is to publish my photos consistently. I plan to do this on primary three different platforms. 

  1. Andrews.Photos  : This is my personal photography blog. In the past I have tried to post two daily photos with little explanation. This has been hard for me to keep up with, and when I fall behind it makes me want to throw in the towel completely. But photography is going to be a huge focus of mine in 2019, and so I hope to really create an online presence of my own photography there. 
  2. Fiftytwo.photos : This is a project that I thought up last year, but never followed through with. I was conflicted about the images I wanted to post on this site. I would have photos of some of the girls that live with me on the site, but I’m not allowed to show those to the public due to privacy laws. So I wasn’t able to showcase some of my favorite photos, and it caused me to lose interest in actually following through with the idea. However, this year I do not plan to post any photos that include any of my girls, so therefore I can keep the site public. The idea is that I post my favorite image from each week of the year. There will be some overlap between Andrews.photos and this site, but that’s ok. That will be less work for me. 

Recently a fellow family-teaching couple lost their baby at about 26 weeks into their pregnancy. It has been very sad to follow along with their story. They have posted a lot on Facebook about their grief, posting photos of them and their baby soon after she was born. The images are powerful and raw. They are extremely powerful and full of emotion. They have captured moments that are invaluable. Memories of the worst moments of a parent’s life, yet moments that are wanting to be remembered forever. 

There is an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which uses photographers and editors to capture these moments professionally. My wife was a labor and delivery nurse before becoming a family teacher, and she has mentioned the times in which families have lost their babies as being some of the most emotional and powerful moments she’s ever witnessed or been a part of. The photos that are taken are extremely precious to the families, and this organization does something incredibly generous for these parents in their worst moment of loss. 

It has been my goal to one day be an official photographer for this organization. But, understandably, their standards are extremely high for becoming a photographer for them. You have to supply a number of high quality photographs for them to review and accept before you are qualified to shoot for them. One of the required shots is a photo which shows you know how to use artificial lights appropriately. So either a speed light or a soft box setup which highlights your ability as a photographer, producing high level professional photos. 

My weakest skill as a photographer has been my knowledge of using flash and secondary artificial light sources within my photography. I’ve stayed away from using flash for two reasons: 1) I don’t have the equipment. 2) I generally don’t like the look of photographs which use flash. I mean, I can recognize what makes them good photos, as well as the skill it requires to do flash photography well. That doesn’t mean I like it, or am able to do it proficiently myself. But I want to change that.

On Friday I purchased an online class to learn more about lighting for photography. I do not own any sort of speed lights that work with my Fujifilm cameras; I don’t own any soft boxes; And up until last week I wouldn’t even know what to purchase.

But now that I’m a few hours into my class, I feel more confident on what my next steps should be in developing my skills as a photographer. I’m still going to wait to purchase any flashes or secondary lights, like a soft box or something, until after I finish the course. But I’m excited about this whole world of photography that has opened up to me, that I’ve never really ventured into. 

But it’s important to me because I really do want to take my photography to the next level and be able to be hired, or accepted, by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep by the end of next year. 

One of the aspects of my photography that I have wanted to improve is my ability to take photos without needing to shoot the photos in RAW. Fujifilm does such a great job with their JPEG images straight out of camera that I have wanted to really publish nearly unedited photos on a regular basis from my cameras. Recently I have been doing that on Instagram using my X-T3 camera. I am able to shoot in JPEG to one card, then connect to my phone via bluetooth and wifi and transfer the photos quickly. 

It’s been very fun, and it takes a dramatic amount of less time to go from taking a photo to publishing it on something like Instagram. I have been happy with the JPEG images and I plan to continue to publish them using this method. 

If you’re interested in following along with my Instagram, my handle is @amseaman

You can take a photo of this badge with your instagram camera to follow me.

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