As Little Olives Photography is approaching it’s first birthday, it seems like a good time to reflect on my photography journey so far. I guess I took up photography relatively late in life. Until a few years ago, I didn’t even know what a DSLR was, let alone how to take a decent photo. I don’t come from a family of photographers so it’s not something I grew up with. However, I’ve always had a love of photos and a fascination with photography. I’m the person that can’t wait to pore over a friend’s wedding album and the first thing I look at when I visit someone’s house is the photos on their wall.

Photography, to me, is all about storytelling and the most compelling images are those that tell stories and evoke emotion. I’ve always been intrigued by photography and used to wonder just how photographers were able to create their images. Having no understanding of aperture or shutter speed, I used to think that they must just have a natural talent for using their camera. I wasn’t sure whether photography was something that I could learn or ever be any good at.

I had been thinking about taking a photography course for sometime, but it was quite a while before I actually got around to it. I guess with two young children, life kept getting in the way. However, I really wanted to be able to take better pictures of our children, I was never happy with the photos we got on our old compact and this was a big incentive in finally booking myself on a course. I finally took my first course in London in the summer of 2013, a one-day photography workshop run by the intriguingly named Hairy Goat. Needless to say, from that day onwards I was totally hooked and very soon afterwards I went out and bought my first DSLR, a Canon 700D accompanied by a rather nice 50mm, f1.4 lens (otherwise known as a ‘nifty fifty’).

I knew that I wanted to do portrait photography, I have always been drawn to photographing people. My main subjects in the early days were of course my children. Back then, I was just trying to get my head around how to use my new camera. I shot everything with a very wide aperture to try and achieve that lovely blurring effect (the 50mm lens is great for this) and I didn’t really take much notice of the light that I was photographing in. Whilst the quality of the images no doubt improved with my new DSLR, there is of course so much more to creating a great image than just having a fancy camera.

Looking back on those early images makes me realise just how far I have come. Photography, naturally, is all about light. No light, no photo! Now I am totally obsessed with light and it’s something I notice all the time, wherever I go. Everything looks better in good light and it opens up so many creative possibilities. These days, if the light isn’t right, I sometimes don’t even bother to get out my camera. However, I can see when the light is good and then I can’t wait to get started.

I’ve since done many more courses in portrait photography. While there is no substitute for just getting out and taking photographs, I think training is really important to be able to move on to the next level and experiment with new techniques.  I am also now a member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers through which I have met other like-minded photographers and I find it a great source of learning and support.

I feel like I have come a long way since my first course in London, yet there is so much still to learn. However, many pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place and some things are now just second nature. Barely a weekend goes by now when I don’t get out my camera. If I’m not booked for a shoot, then I’m out and about somewhere photographing the children and it seems like all the hard work is now starting to pay off and my confidence is really growing.

I am and always will be, drawn to photographing people. I particularly love photographing children, just capturing innocent moments, or an image that simply says childhood. I also photograph families and for me this is about documenting relationships. Children usually love a family shoot – they get to be the centre of attention and are delighted to be spending the morning with their favourite people – their parents and siblings. I like to do all this in the great outdoors, drawing inspiration from the location, the light and the changing seasons.

Leaving behind my previous career and setting up as a professional photographer was a huge decision, but I can’t think of anything else that I would rather do. So far I have found it very hard work, but rewarding at the same time. I’m still trying to get my head around things like marketing and search-engine optimisation (apparently blogging helps!) but taking all that one step at a time…

I am so glad that I started on this journey. If I hadn’t booked that course in London I almost certainly would not be sitting here writing this now. Photography will always fascinate me and there is always more to learn, but at least now I have an understanding and the skills to help me create some beautiful images.