Photographic Progression

I really want to use the word “smorgasbord” in a sentence, but I can’t find a suitable reason to use it save for my desire to say it. And I guess I technically just said it, but I wanted to make it cooler than just telling you that I wanted to use “smorgasbord” in a sentence. But changing up my vocabulary is not why I came here this evening. I came here to talk about photography seeing as this is, in fact, a photography blog. Because it is such, it would thus make sense for me to discuss, you know, photos and stuff (I’m rambling. I’m tired). Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we:

I’ve spent the past few days uploading pictures to McClish Photography’s official Facebook page (yeah, that’s totally a thing now). My method is a little time-consuming. I initially upload all of the edited images from a photo session then delete the worst of the images. What starts as an upload of 100 pictures often gets reduced to the best 20-25 images. This does two things:

  1. It makes clicking through an album much easier to someone wanting to look through my virtual portfolio. It showcases the best images from a set, plus it’s way faster to go through and marvel at 20 images rather than 100.
  2. It shows me just how much I have grown as a photographer throughout the past 5-6 years.

And it’s that second one I am most interested in. I realized how much my tastes have changed over the years, how much keener my eye has become in several instances. What I used to consider a “good photo” often gets demoted to “mediocre at best.” I think it is so important for budding photographers and experts alike to always review their material with fresh eyes every so often. There are some photos in my portfolio that withstand the test of time. They are the images that I am the most proud of. Some of them are accidents (like the photos of the jeans, the ones that even got me into this mess I call a hobby) and others are more delicately planned. As I have grown as a photographer, I have discovered that I am much more intentional about my craft. Though I do still raise my camera and just snap candids, I also spend more time composing shots in advance. And in doing so, my models have also grown with me. They think and imagine as much as I do, if not more, and they aid in the process so we get the best shots. When we do something as simple as problem-solving and looking before we leap, we end up taking less photos. And the cool thing about that is that there end up being more photos of “good” and “great” caliber increasing the percentage of usable, editable photos that I am proud to post for others to see.

But sifting through my own photos wasn’t the only reminder of my growth. A friend of my mine from undergrad is also into photography, and she’s recently been posting photos from her recent session with her best friend. One of the cool, eye-opening, “let me steal this idea from you” things she did was post a bit of a “photographic progression.” It was such a simple concept, but she placed two photos that she’d taken of her best friend side-by-side. One was from 2011, the other from 2014. She captioned the photos by pointing out how much her photography skills have improved in just 3 years. And they have. I’ve been watching her photography closely (not in a creepy kind of way, but in that way where I get inspiration from admiring the work of other artists), and it has been so cool to watch her grow. She, too, is much more intentional with the shots she takes. The poses of her models are more natural, and the biggest difference is that her edits are less heavily processed giving all of her more recent photos a more natural overall look. And we all know how big on naturalism I am (and this is coming from the girl who loves to cross-process just about everything).

So that got me to thinking about how my own photography has progressed. It got me thinking about my photography in relation to poses, light, photo shoot themes, editing. Sometimes I edit things more than others. Sometimes I still create elaborate photo shoot themes (more details for this summer have been hammered out; I’m pumped). Sometimes I still make beginner’s mistakes. I don’t always understand light or particular techniques. And I’m still shooting with, basically, a glorified point-and-shoot. But I’ve also gotten stronger behind the lens. And to prove it (or at least I hope I’m proving it), here are a series of photos spanning the past 5 years of my photography:

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

I think there is a level of growth and, eventually, consistency in my photography now. As the years went on, it became harder and harder for me to pick the best photos. Some of them I just knew were the best (like Felicita and the balloons. I mean, that photo pretty much marked the transition to where I am now). But I’ll let you all ultimately decide for yourselves if you think I’ve improved in my photography. And I hope to continue improving as the years go by.

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