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Whenever you look at magazines such as National Geographic, what is the first thing that holds your attention? For me, it has always been the captivating images of faraway places that I dreamed that I would someday see. I was the youngest of four children in a military family. We relocated to new surroundings whenever duty orders required. I have many memories of a wide variety of places during our travels but did not have a way to see them later.

john goodrow
John Goodrow

My first camera was a Kodak 110 Instamatic, a gift from my mother as I went off to Navy Boot Camp in San Diego, California. I took photos of the area around me through the barracks windows overlooking the marching and exercise areas. Later I moved on to other cameras, such as a Polaroid Instant Camera. I was amazed as the picture developed before my eyes. At the end of my Navy career, I was using a Canon EOS Rebel camera. At this time, film was the only medium. I loved recording my memories. Soon, I realized that with more study and practice I could move from snapshots to serious photography.

I transformed myself into a professional photographer in two steps. I started learning about the technical aspects of digital photography during my first visit to Washington, D.C. I attended a six-hour workshop with a former National Geographic photographer. It was there that I first learned about the exposure triangle, composition rules, and the many different artistic images that I could get by learning to use my camera and not just take snapshots.

In 2017, my real journey began when I attended Great Escape Publishing’s Ultimate Photography Workshop. I was able to return to San Diego, and revisit places that I had seen when I was young, but now I saw them through a wholly different vantage point. The Great Escape workshop showed me more hands-on techniques to improve my photography through field trips and exercises, but it was much more than that.

That weekend opened my eyes to the idea that I could be a professional photographer. It provided me with a roadmap to being a successful professional where my work is appreciated, and I get paid for my creative images.

Today I am an award-winning photographer. In 2018, I won the Grand Sweepstakes at the state level in a photograph competition in Mississippi. I have also sold pictures through Adobe Stock. The Great Escape Publishing process is simple; anyone who is willing to spend time honing their skills can become a successful commercial photographer.

And once you get started, you can find many exciting opportunities as a photographer. As my confidence increased, I asked the local library about displaying my work. They agreed to exhibit my photos. The pandemic put my showing on hold, but I am using this time to showcase my landscape photos on social media and sell them to my first customers. As another example, I have been selected to be the event photographer for next year’s meeting of a veteran’s reunion group in Savannah, Georgia.

I look forward to pursuing these and many more opportunities. These are just the beginning of the many beautiful experiences that await as you begin your photography journey. You don’t need to join the Navy to see the world and get world-class pictures.