Photography Case Study : Audrey Ann of Live Snap Love

Yes, it's time for me to share my photography journey with you!

I realised that I have all these wonderful guests on the blog, sharing their stories, and I've never really shared mine.  So, I've taken the exact same questions I ask everyone else, and answered them!

Yep, I sat there and spoke to myself.

It was worryingly pleasant.

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your photography journey? 

When I tell people the story of my photography journey, I always start when my son was born, since that was when I REALLY started to learn about photography.

However, it started before that, when my husband bought me a high-end Panasonic point and shoot. You couldn't change lenses, but you could shoot in manual mode and change your focus points and so on. This was back in the Christmas of 2006 (I think - it's all a bit hazy these days) and I although I played around a bit with it on AUTO, I knew I needed to learn more so I enrolled in an Open University course on photography.  

If there was one thing guaranteed to put you off this hobby, it was this course. 

It was one of those that dealt a lot with the technical, mathematical and physics side of it (refraction and circle of confusion anyone?!) and although I learnt how to shoot in manual mode, the course made me more confused than when I started. 

The worst thing?  My images weren't any better for it!  

One of the first images taken in Manual Mode, circa 2007. 

One of the first images taken in Manual Mode, circa 2007. 

I tootled about for a bit, not really learning very much, but then my son was born, and I realised that I just simply couldn't get the shots I wanted.

I've said before that one of my biggest regrets was not taking a course to learn photography at this point.  The problem was, I think I was so disillusioned after the first one, that it didn't really cross my mind to do another one.....that and I figured I could work it out for myself and save the cash 😀

It's something that actually makes me really annoyed with myself, because instead of being able to capture this precious time - and one that is so unbelievably fleeting - I missed it because I was too busy trying to figure everything out on my own, AND I was getting frustrated with everyone into the bargain.  

The urge to fix the white balance on the image on the right was strong, but I resisted!

The urge to fix the white balance on the image on the right was strong, but I resisted!

Anyway, for the next couple of years I studied my manual from cover to cover, took lots of lots and lots of practice shots to see what difference each setting made and so on, roamed various blogs for tips and tricks, and I began to see improvement in my photos.  

This was when I started the blog that are reading right now, Live Snap Love, so I could pass on what I had learnt to others. My goal was to do that without any technical jargon. Although there are now lots of wonderful sites doing the same thing, at the time, all I found were the techie ones that teach you little about photography, and are more like a lesson in physics!

However, I still wasn't confident in my abilities and there were some shots I just couldn't get.

It was so incredibly frustrating for me at that time, because I felt like I knew so much, but still couldn't get certain shots.   I now know that MANY other people can relate to this too, so if this is you, you are definitely not alone. 

At this point I enrolled in a couple of Clickin Moms courses. Although I already knew 90% of what was in those courses, they still helped so much because it tied all my random bits of knowledge together - all those little things that I hadn't even known I needed to search for.  

That's when it all came together, and I was able to take the shots I could see in my mind's eye.  

2013.jpg

My original plan had always been to start a photography business. As my background is in small business development, and I figured I could put the two together and have a winning combination 😄

However, I (slowly) realised my greatest asset was actually my way of teaching  (So many people of the years have said to me that I teach in way that makes the complicated seem easy, which makes me so happy!)  That's when I decided to focus fully on the blog, and teaching, and the Auto to Awesome course was born.  

You have no idea of the amount of man hours that went into creating Auto to Awesome! I wanted to create a course that taught someone all the steps they needed to know in ONE course, not two or three.   I also wanted it to follow on logically, step by step, and link everything together, so that you had all the pieces laid out for you. 

I'm actually really, really proud of Auto to Awesome, and it makes me so happy when someone takes the time to write and tell me how much they loved it, or that they have taken a few other courses but THIS was the one that made it click for them.  I think I get more joy from helping OTHERS beautifully capturing their days, rather than taking the images for them.  

And that's us bang up to date 😀

What was your biggest challenge when you started learning photography? 

The technical side.  I have always said that photography is a meeting of both sides of your brain: the artistic side and the technical side.  Some people are use the artistic side more, and some the technical side, which makes one or the other side hard for them!  It didn't help that many sites and courses seem to really go deep into the whole maths and physics side of photography which is hard for me to grasp.  After I learnt you don't really need to understand HOW a lens produces blur, just what settings you need to use to get that affect, it all became  easier. 

On a more detailed note, the thing that really confused me was getting the exposure right.  I could see the image in my head that I wanted to take, but couldn't get the camera to co-operate.  It frustrated me no end!

Did you have a turning point where everything clicked, and if so, what was it? 

Definitely taking a course and learning how it all tied together.

The realisation that everything was connected was the point it all started to make sense to me, and seeing it as a whole, rather than all these disconnected parts.

Is there any advice you received that stuck with you?

"Make like a chisel and create ruthlessly" 

I wish I could remember where I read that, but I don't! The general idea was that sometimes we are all guilty of being armchair photographers - talking about photography, looking at the lenses people use, or searching for tips and advice on Google, when the best thing we can do is get out there and CREATE.  

Think of a shot you would like to take and do whatever you need to do to make it happen.  You might not get that shot the first time to go to take it, or the second (or the third!) but each and every time you create something you learn from it.  

How would you describe your photography style?

Simple. Clean. Pure. Bright. Lively..... 

.....Or whatever I feel like that day.

How do you get inspired and stay creative?

I go through peaks and troughs with photography and feeling inspired, so I have a couple of ways to try to stay creative.

The first is macro - I find it pretty soothing, since you are able to just concentrate fully on the item in front of you.  It takes mindfulness to a new height! 

As you can see I have thing for water and macro....

The second is simply to try something different.  For example I bought one of those "tough" point and shoot cameras, that can also go underwater - it's been pretty fun both from the point of view of taking images where I couldn't previously, but also using a camera that has a lot less functions and capabilities (which strangely I find MUCH harder to use than my DSLR!)

Point and Shoot

Point and Shoot

Point and Shoot

Point and Shoot

I'll also sometimes just try to stick to using my iPhone: limiting yourself to a point and shoot or a camera phone can be extremely good for kick starting your creativity.  

iPhone

iPhone

What gear do you shoot with, and do you have a favorite lens?

I have way more gear than I need! I actually only use two lenses on a frequent basis - my Sigma 35mm for indoor documentary style shots, and my Canon 85mm F1.8 for outdoors and portraits.  Both are equally fantastic and I would recommend them to anyone who likes to take the same type of photographs in a heartbeat. 

My other lenses deserve some attention too, because they are all equally as brilliant in their own right. The Canon 200mm provides the most beautiful images I have ever seen, even straight out of camera - there is so much depth, with great contrast and colour that I just absolutely adore it. However, it is too long for the type of photography I normally do, so I don't get to use it much, which is such a shame.

My 135mm is similar to the 200mm, but in a more workable length - I always think I am going to rid of this but I still haven't got around to it (I buy more lenses and tell my husband that I'm going to sell the 135mm to fund my new purchase - he doesn't seem to have noticed that it never quite gets around to going on eBay and that is has technically it has funded three different lenses) 

Finally, my 100mm macro is beautiful - I love taking macro shots as I find them much less stressful than taking images of children!  It's also a great portrait lens so it can be a bit of an all rounder - definitely a good buy . 

I also have the 50mm F1.4, which I am definitely selling, to partially fund the purchase of my brand new Canon 16-35mm (well, new to me, it's pre-loved - there's no way I could afford it new!)  just because I seem to reach for my 35mm or 85mm more. 

And of course, I'm selling the 135mm, just if anyone happens to ask......

Do you have any tips or advice that you could pass along to any new photographers?

For any new photographers reading this,  understand that photography is a puzzle and that everything is connected. That's why photography is so difficult at first, because you don't have all the pieces of the puzzle in front of you, so you don't how to get it all to fit together. 

My advice is to learn in STEPS.  

The internet is such a wonderful thing, and it can be an amazing help on your photography journey, but it can also give you information overload!  Try not to get sucked into something that won't help you at the stage you are at right now. If you can't tell what the correct white balance is, then calibrating your monitor won't make a blind bit of difference. If you don't know how to do a clean edit, then learning how to makes the eyes pop in processing won't help you much. If you don't understand depth of field and motion blur, then trying to use back button focus isn't going to be the magic pill that makes your images all come out tack sharp.  Build your foundations first, and layer on knowledge.