The first camera I ever bought was a one mega-pixel point and shoot digital camera from Target. That was in 2002. Fast forward three years, and I was ready to get serious about photography. I spent $1000 on eBay for a DSLR, the Canon Rebel XT. That camera had seven autofocus points, and it produced a whopping eight megapixel photo (consider that Apple was still boasting that their iPhones had eight megapixel cameras ten years later in 2015).
My good friend, Andrew, who had the same model camera, was the one who talked me into getting it. I'm glad he did! I asked him to teach me how to use it, and he had one rule: “As soon as you take it out of the box, switch the mode and focus to Manual, and do not take it out of Manual until you can teach me how to use it.” That was the best rule I could have ever followed!
Andrew and I were in Biology 101 in university together. We came to class with our cameras soon after I received my camera in the mail, and a classmate noticed them. She asked if we were photographers, and she said she was interested in getting some photos taken to give to friends and family members. I bit and said I was a “budding photographer,” and I would be happy to take her photos for free for my portfolio.
I had learned the basics, but not well enough. I was under the impression that the goal was always to have a super fast shutter speed. So, I boosted my ISO to 1600 (the max for the Rebel XT), and I started the shoot with Liz. All of this was in Manual, including focus.
Are you ready to see photos that I was, at that time, very proud of? I look back and cringe. It's embarrassing. Out of focus. Terrible grain. Bad composition. You get the idea. But I am so glad I kept the photos and can reflect on them now. Let me say this now: Liz, the model, was great. There's nothing embarrassing or cringeworthy to say about her. It's all directed toward my idea of a photoshoot on 28 November 2005. I came away with 167 "keepers," which were all edited at my work computer in Photoshop 7.0. Here are the best of the "best." Brace yourself.
So, what do you think?
Now, take a look at some of my more recent photo shoots. I'll be the first to say there is a lot more growth needed. And since I only do photography with my spare time on the side, I have not grown as fast as I could have. But progress is evident, nonetheless.
If you would like to see more photos from these shoots, check out the galleries:
Whatever you're working on now, keep a record of it. It is always worth going back to see how you've progressed, no matter how embarrassing it is.