So my 25 before 25 plans are…
Well. Most of the are still plans. Every time I go back to look at them I think “I can’t do that until I’m back in Chicago.” Or “Crap. I forgot that stuff back in Chicago”. Or “Victoria doesn’t have a karaoke bar. I’ll have to wait until I’m back in Chicago.”
The one plan that’s stuck even just sort of is number twelve. Take more pictures.
You would think, that in today’s tech savvy world I’d be able to just whip out my phone and snap a picture willy nilly. But I can’t. I’m so self conscious. I’m so acutely aware of myself that I can’t take a picture without worrying about what others think. I sometimes feel like I’m the only person in the world who feels more confident in front of a camera than behind one.
I also felt so held back by the technology I had at my disposal. The phone on my camera is 3 years old (pretty much a grandma in tech standards), and there is no DSLR that could hang around my neck and bolster my confidence. I have a little less-than-$200 dollar, point-and-shoot camera that I bought for utility, not fashion. I felt uncomfortable identifying as a blogger without even the visual look of a DSLR. I genuinely considered buying a more expensive (but less useful in the long run) point-and-shoot, just because it looked like a DSLR.
Not only that, but I am incredibly uncomfortable with technology for anything “artistic”. Years of my life are pretty much absent from my records because I saw photography as an art form, and not as a way of chronicling life. But if I can overcome my insecurities, you can too. Here’s what’s helped me get past the mental hurdles.
A filter makes everything better. Well, most things. That episode of 2 Broke Girls where Caroline gets a rash “down there” that a filter like “Valencia” can’t even fix. But real talk now.
Instagram helps me take pictures. Not better pictures, but pictures at all. For me, taking a picture to Instagram and share is different than taking a picture because I want to save the memory forever. When I Instagram, I use my regular camera app, and take lots of different pictures so that my nervous, self conscious self can go back and pick from the best. Now I have hundreds of pictures that have never seen the light of Instagram, but are on my camera to remind me of those moments I thought were special enough to capture.
2. Showing Others my Pictures
I have dozens of friends who are more artistic than me. Their world is full of beautiful things, thoughtful ideas, and stunning pictures. My world is not. But as I started posting regularly on Instagram, and had the same friends liking my photos, I became more confident and shared with them the photos that hadn’t made the Insta-cut.
This is my mother-in-law’s favourite picture of her dog Hudson. I don’t love this picture, but she really does!
Instead of the awkward smiles and “Oh. That’s… really nice, Becca” that I was sure was coming, my friends said “Wow! You took that picture?” They commented on how they felt when seeing it for the first time and gave really helpful advice. For me, having friends who just enjoyed my photos for what they were gave me the confidence to start reaching for my little point-and-shoot more regularly.
3. Claiming a “Signature” Angle
Every chef has their signature dish. I decided to have a signature angle. I most often have time for photo-taking at home while I’m making or creating something. In order for me to get everything I want in the frame, I usually end up taking a photo from above. Nine times out of ten I love how it turns out.
Apparently every single picture I take from a bird’s eye view involves a circle. Who’duh thunk?
So I’ve tried to perfect this. Staging and styling my work so it can best be seen from above has been a fun and easy way for me to get a quick win under my belt. I know that once I start getting bored of this, I’ll change it up and focus on a new way to view my work, but at least be awesome at something to fall back on.
4. Making the Best of What I Have on Hand
Even though I don’t have the fanciest camera on the market, it is the best one for me. Each time I upload a little movie or take a picture I’m proud of, I fall a little more in love with it’s capabilities. I’m often unhappy with the content of what I’ve taken, or I haven’t quite figured out how to use the settings (or what ISO is for that matter), but I’m always happy with the quality.
I’ve also discovered that natural light is best. I’m so late to understanding this topic, but after years of blogging late at night, embarrassed about my much adored hobby, and posting the best pictures that I could of overexposed dinners, I’ve finally seen the light. Too shy to make, store, and pull out a lightbox when I really needed or wanted it, I used to take my photos at midnight in the worst lit room in my home because I was so worried about how I would look to others while taking photos. But after feeling how happy I am when a frame is beautifully lit, endorphins overshadow whatever nervousness I used to feel and instead of thinking about the people around me, I just start thinking about how it’s going to look posted online or as my desktop background. I’ve slowly started making the best of my own nervousness, and quick wins to better build up my confidence.
These are really old photos, but at this point four years ago I began to understand why people love natural light. The lambs look so ethereal. I have yet to figure out how to use flash on a camera. Maybe one day.
I also invested in a really cute little purse I re-purposed as a camera bag that I love to carry with me. I’m also looking for a lanyard that I can attach to my camera so I can wear it around my neck and have it two seconds handier. I am falling in love with the things I already have instead of pining over the things I don’t.
5. Realizing that in the end, what you create doesn’t really matter to anyone but you
So many people or bloggers take photos for mass distribution or to put on a wall, or in a pretty scrapbook or for their job. But it’s not always about how pretty it looks in a coffee table book. In the end, it’s about preserving a moment in life, even if it looks terrible. Months after I’ve taken photos with my camera, accidental pocket pictures, or memories I had forgotten remind me of a time when I thought that in that moment it was important to stop, and capture the world around me with a single ‘click’.
What is your favourite photography tip or trick?