I Was A Bad Photographer

I was a bad photographer.  That may be the most honest (and scary) sentence I have ever written on this blog.  I’m sure it sounds odd to put yourself and your work down in that way, but it was true.  Now, did I know I was a bad photographer?  Of course not.  I knew I was a new photographer who had lots of room to learn.  I knew I had room to grow (and still do).  But did I know I was truly bad?  Nope.  I actually thought I was pretty good for a beginner.  I didn’t realize how bad I was until my work finally improved.  Once I began to see noticeable changes in my work I looked back over some of my older work and wondered how anyone was actually praising me for doing a good job, let alone paying me! God bless my first year clients.

Let’s take a look back over my first year of work (2011-2012) and compare it to my work during 2015 and see how much can change in just 3-4 years.

My very first shoot was with my best friend, Kanitra.  At this point I actually had no thoughts of becoming a professional photographer.  I bought a DSLR camera and needed someone to practice on and she and her dog, Fergie, were the perfect subjects.

bad photography

This entire shoot wasn’t horrible, but this photo was.  I love a good black and white picture, but the blurring and what I assume is white vignetting (ech!) is terrible.  And because of how the client is squinting I probably had her facing the sun which is a definite no-no.  I give myself a pass since at this point I only had one beginner photography course under my belt and no aspirations to turn this into an actual career.  Roughly 4 years later I had the opportunity to work with Kanitra again for her graduation photos and I absolutely LOVE how this cap and gown image turned out!  It’s clean, simple and makes her the center of attention with no unnecessary blurring or vignetting.

One of my very first paid clients found me through the photos I posted online of Kanitra.  They, for some reason, thought the photos looked great and needed updated family portraits so I decided to go for it.  My prices at this time were dirt cheap, and rightly so.  In all honesty I probably shouldn’t have started charging for a while.  This session wasn’t filled with terrible blurring, but I was a novice when it came to posing so as you can see in the photo below the family looks disconnected.  They don’t sync with one another.  They’re just four individuals sitting down in a photo together.  I’m not saying that a family has to be touching or huddled together in every single shot, but they should look like they’re connected somehow.  We’ll gloss over the fact that the photo is overly saturated and the background is WAY too bright…

bad photo

The family session below from my Fall Mini Sessions this past year is one of my favorites!  Not only are they a family that I love and love working with, I can definitely tell that my posing skills have improved over the years.  You can tell they’re a unit and that they blend well with each other without it being forced.  Also, the background colors actually look like they belong in nature.


Railroad tracks.  I won’t say much other than the fact that they’re a big NO!  Most railroads are illegal to shoot on so if you ever have a photographer attempting to take you to one for your session just say no.  I, thankfully, didn’t have to learn the hard way, but this was my first and only session that took place on tracks.  When you know better you do better.

bad photography

I think photographers use railroad tracks to add interest to a photo.  Something unique and different (although I’m pretty sure that every photographer that’s ever picked up a camera has shot on one).  But I’ve learned that when shooting couples, or really anyone, simple is best.  No need to add in a whole bunch of background scenery or props.  When shooting the Benson Intimate Wedding earlier this year all I had was the bride, groom and a brick wall.  And to date it’s one of my all-time favorite sessions.  When in doubt, keep it simple.


I’ve really enjoyed shooting individual portraits over the years and they’ve been some of my most enjoyable sessions.  My aunt came to me back in 2011 and I did a quick birthday session for her in my parents yard.  Here we go yet again with the over-saturation (causing the skin to be orangey), blowing out the whites and bad black vignetting.  I still use a small amount of black vignetting when editing my photos now, but it’s much more subtle and realistic looking.


Once again, clean and simple wins out like with my session this past winter with LaQuandra.  I like focusing on the details of a photo and I absolutely love it when colors pop (look at that lip color!) without having to do heavy editing and little to no vignetting.


Finally the hump that I’m happiest to have gotten over is shooting at an angle!  I thought it made me artistic, creative, different!  I’m sure some of my clients liked their photos this way, but in the end I found it just made a non-interesting photo slightly more interesting, but only because the angle was off.

bad photography

I came to the decision that I didn’t want an angle to be what makes my photos interesting.  As a good photographer I should be able to create and compose a unique image without having to do something odd like switching up the angle to make it stand out.  I want to go into each session knowing I can totally rock it!  Being confident in myself and my work makes my work stand out on it’s own and I’m thankful that I’ve finally come to that point in my career.

good photography

It’s been good for me to look back over my work these last 4 years and see where and how I’ve grown.  I’m sure in the next 4 years I will continue to grow and I can look back over my work and be proud of the things I’ve learned.  If you’re a photographer who feels like your current work isn’t up to par with others in our field, keep going forward.  Never stop learning.  Always look to become better.  You are in competition with no one else but yourself. If you do those things, you have nowhere to go but upwards.  And if you’re a potential client, please don’t hold the bad work against me.  We all have to start somewhere.


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