My passion for photography kicked into high gear when I realized my kids were growing up too fast and began to play sports. My goal was to create some great candid portraits as well as to capture some amazing action shots of them that would allow me to freeze time, tell their story, and create memories along the way. That was back in 2015, and since then I’ve photographed them in their dance recitals, soccer, baseball, football games and swimming.
My first “real” camera was a Nikon D5300 with two kit lenses(small and long zoom), and that camera had more settings and dials that I knew what to do with them, my journey began (I’m on my 3rd camera, shhhh). How I learned? Creve Coeur Camera was a huge help in my development as a photographer. I wanted to learn it all… from the basics to the advanced settings. Camera basics was my first class, and I remember to this day Tom Tussey saying “M setting stands for muck it up”. Yes, I was still shooting in Auto (letting the camera do all the work). I then began to take their Shutter Speed class (dropping fruits into a fish tank), photographing water drops falling onto a pan and capturing the amazing crest that forms. Then add on the Aperture class. What is all the fuzz with depth of field? Yeah, that blurry nice looking background in the cool portraits (the technical term is “bokeh”). And practice, and more practice, and some more. I kept on trying to photograph my kids in action, so I tried and tried, but then also took Scott Rovak’s Sports Photography class. And that inspired me even more to explore new settings in my camera, shoot in Shutter Speed priority (or venture to all manual). Creve Coeur Camera’s classes, inspiration, field trips, Photopalooza have all helped me become the photographer I am today.
It’s been a long road of trials and errors that have allowed me togo from auto to shutter or aperture priority or all manual; from knowing when and why ISO 100 or ISO 10000+, from slow shutter speeds and blurry pictures to fast shutter speeds and crisp shots, from awkward white balance to the correct white balance, from shooting JPG to shooting RAW, from letting the camera make decisions to now directing the camera, to composing the shots, and to editing each and every one of my shots.
I can’t tell you how many games I’ve been to and watched most of it through my little viewfinder, and that’s challenging, but the satisfaction of getting that action shot is unbelievable. Also, I’ve learned to anticipate some plays, I get inside the field (be careful where you stand, but don’t always stay behind the fence), I change the angle from where I’m photographing from (down low, eye level, higher up). Changing perspectives creates more variety to how you end up telling the story and documenting that game. I approach each game as if I was the sports photographer that needs to tell a story, so I try to focus on the main player/subject (my kids primarily), but then I work on capturing some frames of other players/team, the parents, the siblings, the venue, reactions to goals and home runs. I also vary the frames so I have some close-ups as well as some wider frames, at the end, I want to have a story to tell, not just portraits.
Go out and shoot. Practice, practice, and practice a bit more. Try new focus modes, try new settings, check your images, fix what you think needs to be adjusted (shutter speed, ISO). And wait for the next action shot and try again.
The very famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” I’m past that, and I’m still learning and trying out new things if it means I get to be better with each thousandth shot.
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