My Photography Journey

My photography journey started way back before I even knew I wanted a camera.  Bron and I were newlyweds.  I was working for an ophthalmologist office while Bron was finishing his bachelor's degree and working on his family's dairy.  Bron usually didn't get in from milking those bovine beauties until about 10PM most evenings, which left me plenty of free time to fill after my own work day was done.  So I started running, scrap-booking, and teaching violin lessons.  I had my own mini studio of six students or so.  At Bron's suggestion, I started saving all my violin money in an envelope tucked away inside a book.

Roughly two years later, we moved to New York so that Bron could commence earning his master's degree.  I still had the envelope of cash.  At first I had my heart set on buying a piano, but that very summer I became pregnant with Jed and everything changed.  I saw the beautiful pictures my cousin was posting of her handsome boys and I knew I wanted to have pictures of my own children just like she did.  If she could learn photography, then so could I, right?

So after a little research, I took my envelope of cash to the store and bought Photoshop Elements 8 and a Canon Rebel xsi with a kit lens.

 ^^A trip to Montreal, Quebec with my new camera.  Can you see my tiny baby bump?^^
 ^^One of my first attempts at capturing upstate New York in the Fall^^

I was thrilled!  And I was overwhelmed.  There was just so much to wrap my head around: shutter speed, aperture, ISO.  I immersed myself in online tutorials on "how to shoot in manual" and editing basics.  I read my camera's manual, played with my settings, and re-read the manual.  By golly, I was determined to learn this and learn it well!

Little by little, I did learn.  I asked a lot of questions.  And I made a lot of mistakes.  I was critical of myself, but delighted in my improvements.  Most of all, I was just happy that the click of my camera was fast enough to capture Jed's first smiles and milestones.

I soon grew brave enough to start shooting in RAW.  My cousin suggested editing in Digital Photo Professional (DPP), a program that came on CD with my Canon camera.  I immediately saw a HUGE difference!  DPP is a powerful basic editing program that suddenly transformed by photographs from "blah" to "ta-dah".  Used in conjunction with Photoshop Elements (PSE), I felt like I was on my way.  It was exciting!

 ^^Six month old Jed playing in the leaves.  One of my first pictures edited in DPP.  It was over exposed and I was able to "save" it.^^

Since we didn't have internet access at home, I would often go next door to the Miner Institute Library and print off pages of step-by-step instructions for editing and making my own actions in PSE.  I cannot tell you how beneficial that was to learning the program and its seemingly endless capabilities.

 ^^Learing the ins and outs of Photoshop Elements, experimenting with layers and colors and opacity using instructions I printed from the web.^^

Christmas 2010 Bron surprised me with a brand new lens!  He bought me the 50mm f/1.8, also known as fantastic plastic.  For a pair of students, it fit our budget perfectly coming in at about $100.  I attached it to my camera and immediately noticed an extensive difference in my photos.  The colors!  The sharpness!  Bokeh!  I could finally shoot indoors!  It was a miracle lens that changed the way I saw the world as a budding photographer.

 ^^Using my 50mm f/1.8 lens for the first time!^^

Six months later, Bron graduated and started his career.  We moved across the country back "home" to Idaho.  We bought a house and welcomed Levi into the family.  When I began making friends, Bron encouraged me to tell my friends that I loved photography and offer to take their pictures.  (Where would I be without that man's loving support?)  For some reason, taking pictures for other people took some courage for me.  It felt simultaneously thrilling and intimidating.  After all, I didn't want to waste anyone's time or money.  So I made up a little website and started shooting other people for free, gradually increasing my prices as word spread and demand grew.

Months later, I finally earned enough money to buy a new computer and upgrade to editing in Lightroom 5.  I would sing praises about Lightroom all day long!  It's an incredible computer program that has sped up my workflow and I think has improved my finished photo product.  The program comes with a steep learning curve though.  I'm still learning about its infinite functions, but I'm excited because I still have a long way to go in the way of pushing the program to its limits.     

Just last spring, I photographed two classes of children at a local private preschool.  Almost all of the checks were made out to "Rock Creek Photography".  Ooops!  There was no way I could cash those.  So I quickly sent off a form in the mail to the state (with a $20 check) to officially register Rock Creek Photography as a business in the state of Idaho.  Two weeks later I was suddenly a legitimate business woman!  What?  It was crazy and exciting and really didn't mean anything more than the fact that I now have a business bank account.  I'm still in the very beginning stages of running a "business".  I really have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm learning.  Right now, I'm slowly trying to grow my clientele whilst keeping my role as wife and mother top priority.

It has taken me nearly five years to feel comfortable enough to call myself a photographer.  Perhaps I can more accurately be labeled a Momtog--a mom who photographs her children.  Either way, I've come a long way.  I've learned a lot!  But the interesting thing about photography is that there is no finish line.  I will never "arrive" anywhere.  Instead, I will have to challenge myself to keep learning and improving.  Photography is a wonderful art, a beautiful way to document our lives and a form of self expression.  I love it and I don't see myself stopping any time soon.

 ^^My little boy--the whole reason I started learning photography^^


  1. I love this concept so much and need to use Clickin Moms more, I am sort of lost in all the forum posts and threads, and didn't see this photography story theme there. I need to do this!!

    Your photos are seriously stunning, so sharp and crisp, and excellent attention to detail. I also have the fantastic plastic ( lol) and need to use it more.

    1. Yes, I haven't quite wrapped my head around everything in Clickin Moms website yet either. It's a bit overwhelming! Thanks for the sweet compliment. I know that the fantastic plastic can change your photography eye forever!

  2. Wow! It's amazing how much your photos have evolved. Your pictures are absolutely stunning!

  3. Love it! I've followed your photography advancement from the beginning and always knew you had talent :)

  4. How fun to document your journey. Do you still use DPP along with PSE and light room? It would be fun to hear about your work flow...

    1. I actually ditched DPP and use Lightroom 5 for the majority of my editing. I still use PSE, especially with clients, because I think its better suited for detail work. I actually wrote a post on another blog about my workflow for blogging and how I keep it simple.

  5. Thank you for sharing your "photography" story. You are such a "natural," when it comes to taking pictures, and I love looking at all of your gorgeous photos of your boys, your vacations, and Idaho. I wish I lived closer because I would hire Rock Creek Photography in a second!

  6. This is such a great idea and I enjoyed reading how you have evolved as a photographer. I am so impressed that you are self taught. I majored in photography in college and I feel like you are way better than me! Your work it amazing.

    1. Thank you, Shanley! But don't underestimate yourself. I don't know the first thing about graphic design. You've also captured your life and family quite well!

  7. Love your blog, love your story and love that after all these years i am still keeping up with you on the web! Your boys are so big and so handsome and your photography is so beautiful. I love to read the thoughts from your brain. Keep writing, keep photographing, keep sharing!

  8. Love this! I bought (or Kyle bought for me) my DSLR because I wanted to capture great pictures of my kids too. At first I did a lot of research about photography, just like you did. And then, like I tend to do with all things, turned my attention elsewhere and didn't continue to pursue photography as an art. I'm so glad you stuck with it and love it, because I love, love, love seeing the way you capture the everyday with your family. Such fantastic pictures! Way to go on the business! That is so intimidating to me, but also so exciting. Keep taking pictures and I'm sure it will continue to grow!


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