novice photography

Posted by & filed under Travel Photography.

It’s difficult to sum up the fun I had being a speaker for the first time at a Great Escape Publishing photography conference, but let me try to find the words to explain.

A range of emotions hit when I was asked to be a speaker: I was humbled and nervous but mainly excited and flattered to be a part of the conference. My heart soared, and honestly I don’t think it came back down to earth until a few days after it was all over.

I mean, I was going to meet photographers that shoot for National Geographic for goodness’ sake. I couldn’t believe it. That’s a dream of mine and this was the closest I had come.

pretending to be on national geographic cover
Pretending I’m on a National Geographic cover.

Like many of you, photography is a passion I discovered later in life—for me, over the last five years. So yes, I’m an old dog learning new tricks.

But it’s a passion I love to share with anyone who will listen. So, to be recognized and asked to speak alongside the other amazing photographers in the GEP lineup had me puffing my chest out a little bit. I’m not too proud to admit that it felt like I’d finally “made it.”

I was excited to share what I had learned so far, tips I wish someone had shared with me when I first started. I had so much to share that several edits were needed to condense it all into a half-hour presentation.

Was I nervous? Yes. But time flew. My nerves disappeared. Sharing photography tips, tricks, and handy hints was a pleasure. And because my photography journey is far from over, I enjoyed getting to meet and learn from the other amazing speakers.

See, when I first started out on my photography journey it was daunting. I was literally handed my first camera as I was getting on a plane to go abroad. I remember looking down at this fancy Canon and thinking, “Wow that’s a lot of buttons and dials…do I need all of those?”

Fortunately for me it was love at first photo—on full auto mode of course.

But the photos weren’t perfect. Some were blurry, some were shooting straight into the sun with bright flares, spots, and half the image overexposed. In fact, they were so bad I decided to hire a professional photographer to show me the ropes.

bel woodhouse
Bel Woodhouse

I’d love to say it was smooth sailing from there, but I still made plenty of mistakes. I’m human. I don’t get it perfect every time. Not even half the time. That’s why I attend these photography workshops, to learn from other photographers.

I am happy to say that even now when Ruby (my camera) comes out to play I learn something new. Even now, as a photographer that sells a lot of editorial images to magazines, I’m still learning. Of course, my photography has improved a lot, but I still don’t get it right every time.

It’s funny, remembering when I was at the beginning, listening to all of the professionals. I thought, “I wish I could download their brain,” as a sort of magical shortcut to becoming a great photographer.

That idea still crosses my mind sometimes when I meet other photographers. Why? Because everyone has their own style and talent. They show you things that you haven’t thought of or tried.

That’s the best part of photography. Everyone starts in the same place, then comes into their own. So long as you get out there and keep pushing.

You too will learn more each time—and maybe next year or the year after you’ll be invited back as a speaker. I sincerely hope so. It is a wonderful feeling to contribute to such a great photography experience.