Thursday, February 2, 2012

My photography path (part 1ish)

A textversation with my sister reminded me of some stuff I want to talk through in some blog posts. Maybe it's boring, but I think there are some people out there who can relate to my ongoing experience with attempting to do professional photography as a side job. I'm still figuring things out, so it might help me to type through the process so far.

Get ready to see some old photos.

[Downtown Sacramento, 2003]

I already talked about some of the initial experiences that made me take photography a little more seriously. Technically, I was paid for my photography as early as about 2003 (some say that's what determines whether a person is professional), but that was back when I was still getting to know digital cameras. I was taking pictures that went into some of our materials at work, and then I was paid an additional fee for one of my work portraits, because the client wanted to use it in his book. At this point, I was doing graphic design for less than 50% of my work day (split with registering students in grad school and other administrative work), so my focus and desire was to get into a full-time graphic design position. Photography was just a hobby and not something I was necessarily pursuing.

[Work, 2006]

But when I finally did get that full-time graphic design position I had been after (that's my current job, which I started in late 2005), I was hired with the expectation that I would be taking some pictures for my employer. This was good news, although I didn't necessarily feel qualified. My workplace has a lot of beauty, though, and I enjoyed practicing my photography on the wide variety of natural and architectural features. It's also more in my comfort zone to take pictures of subjects that can't judge my technique or feel embarrassed. :)

I can't remember the exact point I started wanting to do portrait photography. In some ways it just seemed like the natural next step, especially since people tend to start asking you about it when they know you take pictures. But I also really started to enjoy it after practicing on my nieces.

[Easter 2006]

I remember taking a bunch of pictures of them one Easter after I had made the switch to a DSLR (one of the signs I was getting serious about my hobby). I think that experience prompted me to take more portraits, though I stuck to required work head shots and my nieces for awhile. Then I did those two weddings, and I knew I wanted to take more pictures of people, but I was still in denial that I could do professional portraits, or that I would ever market myself in such a way.

Something to know about me: I can be very slow about certain things. I tend to be maybe overly cautious and drag my feet in order to avoid jumping the gun and possibly looking stupid. I guess one of my biggest fears in life is looking stupid, but I certainly haven't sidestepped it (and when I think I have appeared stupid, I analyze it to death and want to hide while I let the humiliation wash over me and eventually pass). I admire people who go about things differently, although sometimes I disagree with their hasty approach. :)

Anyway, the idea of portrait photography was growing on me more and more, and I was inspired by all of the photography blogs I followed. When I started posting in this blog in early 2010, I felt like I needed to take steps--even if baby steps--toward doing more paid portrait photography. The blog was one way to publicly display my photos as a sort of ongoing portfolio, but I also revamped my web page to be more photography-centered. I still didn't really know where I was going with all of it, it just seemed like the right thing to do, and I figured God would give me more direction as time went on. I was laying a foundation, just in case.

To be continued.


  1. Thank you, Jessica, for the background regarding your photography experiance and growth and the beautiful photos. (I always enjoy them.) Love, Mom

  2. I thinks this post will be applicable for lots of people. Plus, it'll be fun to learn about the progression (and reflect on "old photos") that has led you to your professional photography. :) Thanks for walking down memory lane with all of us.

  3. This was interesting even though I've known you for most of that time! :)

  4. Very interesting! I loved the older photos in this post. Young K and L! : )

    I like hearing about your path to photography, and I'm lucky to be along for the ride!

  5. Wow. I'm so glad you posted this! It's a neat journey to read about and see! And, Jessica, you are very, VERY good!



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