Photography Progression - A Look Back

 Friday, December 21, 2012

Every now and then I look at pictures I take and get disappointed, thinking that my skill just isn't where I want to be.  This especially happens when I look at all the blogs I follow, and see all the amazing talent out there.  I know I shouldn't compare myself to other photographers, but it's hard not to sometimes.  I think in these moments of discouragement, it helps to take a look back at your old work and see how far you've come.

After this last session with my good friends Kristin and Mike, I realized that I've been photographing them for a while.  So I decided to take a look at some old pics I've taken of them to track my improvement.

I had just got my very first dslr - a Nikon D70s.  And I didn't know how to use it very well.  They had just gotten engaged and I wanted to practice doing an engagement session.

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Oh my, there are so many things wrong with this photo.  First of all the horizon line is SO crooked.  That's such an easy thing to fix in photoshop, and yet I didn't do it.  And yes, I photoshopped this picture.

Of course the main thing wrong with this photo is the light.  You can tell by the upper right corner that the sun was still too high in the sky for me to be taking portraits at all, and I didn't know how to backlight portraits AND I was shooting on auto so to keep them from being silhouettes with the water behind them, I used my pop up flash.  Yikes.

The third thing I notice, is the pose.  While not terrible, all I can see is that Kristin's poor face is all smooshed.  That's something I would correct today.  Then I notice that they are both wearing all white shirts which today is the first thing I tell people NOT to wear! Ohhh what else, the photo looks a little over saturated, I think I'm using a wide angle lens, I could just go on and on.....

Fast forward a few years, I gave up on photography for a few years, then got back into it and upgraded my camera to the Nikon D90, and started practicing more.  Kristin and Mike just had adorable baby Kenley, so this was my first time trying to shoot a family.

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Now while I think this is worlds better than my first attempt, there are still a few problems with it i notice.  First of all, I'm still learning how to use light to my advantage.  One thing I notice is that neither of them have catchlights in their eyes.  I see that the light is coming from the side and is a little too hot on the side of Mike's face.  The pose is ok except Kenley looks a little awkward (now baby K has smoosh face!) and I didn't notice that Kristin's shirt was pulling up a bit.  In photoshop I think I upped the contrast a bit too much, but not too bad overall.

About 6 months later, I took this shot.  

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I was trying to make my posing more about the subjects interacting with each other rather then just looking at the camera and smiling.  However, I think in this shot I'm just a tad too close.  Also my focus is a little off and the white balance is WAY off!

Fast forward about a year and a half past the above photo and I took this.

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I really like that mom looks happy and relaxed, and the pose looks natural instead of posed.  The color of the photo looks rich and warm, the focus is spot on, and I'm getting better at editing.

Sure I could still pick this photo and photos in this session apart, (such is my nature!) but for the purpose of this exercise I simply want to focus on he fact that it's a huge improvement from the first photo I ever took of them in 2007! I can't wait to see what my photos look like after another 4 years of practice!

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Kim Stevens December 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM  

This is a good exercise for all of us to do...I was noticing the same thing about some photos I took with my D80 on automatic of nature stuff and oy, what a huge difference to now!!

Karen December 22, 2012 at 8:48 PM  

I can see the progression of your photography, although I think they are all beautiful. I really like the one with the baby looking up. There is shining light in her(?) eyes. Beautiful subjects, hard to go wrong! xx

Kristin December 22, 2012 at 11:01 PM  

Definite improvement! Way to go!

Mary Gene Atwood December 23, 2012 at 10:09 AM  

I think we are all too hard on ourselves! I love your photos, and I would bet if you didn't point out the flaws, your friends would think all the photos you took of them are perfect! Merry Christmas to you.

Madge Bloom December 23, 2012 at 8:12 PM  

Wonderful family portraits, to be cherished forever! Thank you for sharing on Weekly Top Shot #62!

Lil Mama Stuart December 28, 2012 at 10:29 AM  

Such a good exercise. You've come a LONG way, keep it up! I need the same reminder myself.

Emily January 2, 2013 at 8:50 AM  

What a great reminder of your progress! I fall into the same trap of feeling like I am not where I want to be in terms of my skill. Looking back and reflecting can be so powerful! I am doing a Reverse 365 this year and am now thinking maybe I could do something like this a long the way. Thank you for sharing Jaymi and as always for the inspiration!

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