Talk about patience paying off! Looking over all these wonderful photos of Jordyn’s high school senior session, I feel as though she and I are both reaping the benefits of patience! Jordyn and I first started discussing her senior photo session way back in the Fall. She came along at a point where I was doing well, but knew I was on the cusp of really upping my game. At the time of our first meeting, I suggested waiting until at least February for her session. I knew I would soon be meeting with local Houston photographer, Jerry Jones, and thought he would be able to point me in the right direction for improving my skills. Then, lucky for her, when it came time for her shoot, I was SO incredibly close to getting a new camera that I asked her to wait another week! I am so glad she did!
If you’re new to Shutterluv by Ashley, WELCOME! My business plan has been to slowly build a business, improving along the way using my profits to invest in the expensive education and equipment I need. Just go on FB and check out my first photos, you’ll see a HUGE improvement! I am about about 1.5 years in and have kept my prices as low as possible only raising them to cover expenses once I felt confident in my work and business practices. I have always felt as though this is a win-win situation. Clients got nice photos at nice prices and I earned funds to invest in my business. Since I first started discussing senior portraits with Jordyn way back in the fall, because of my lovely supporters, I have been able to purchase a new computer so I can work with RAW files in Photoshop (THANK YOU Carlos Quesada with Quesada World Collection for helping me select my computer! IT ROCKS!), a new 27 inch ultra sharp 4K monitor so I can check for accurate colors and sharpness (Yes, I get to see your sparkly eyes and happy faces at 2ft wide), a computer desk (previous desk was the kitchen table) and a bookshelf (I now have a place for my camera bag and all my Photography books). 🙂 I think my husband’s favorite investment was the computer desk because it meant getting my computer and huge monitor off of the kitchen table!
While gear and equipment can greatly improve the quality of a photo, you must know what you are doing to use that professional level gear to its fullest potential. Enter local Houston photographer, Jerry Jones, with Jones Images, and my request that Jordyn hold off on pictures. Jerry specializes in corporate photography and is able to take interesting, artful photos of industrial buildings. He spent several hours showing me what I have to look forward to in photography and offering advice to improve my photos. The knowledge base and amazing collection of gear he has from 40 years in the industry blows me away. I feel like my understanding of photography and my tiny (but still expensive) investment in gear is an itty bitty little drop in huge ocean! While Jerry’s advice did help me add some drops to my ocean of knowledge, a line on his web page really resonated with me. He states, “The best photographs tell a story. Whether it’s about a place, a product, or the human condition. I strive to create images that reveal something compelling about the subject.” Reading that line was like a breath of fresh air. We are at a point where clients have endless options when it comes to the look of their photos. Jerry’s line helped me to define and be comfortable with my style. As I have always said, I want to “capture your everyday moments, for tomorrow they will be slightly different”. I too want to tell a story about a person or family, I want to reveal their personality in the images we create.
Taking natural photos that offer a glimpse of a persons’ personality is much harder to take than I thought. It’s the latest aspect of my photography that I am working to improve. That is why Jordyn’s email to me about her senior photos could not have come at a more perfect time! I was actually writing this for my blog when I saw the (1) at the top of my screen! (YAY for non spammed up work email!). I teared up a little bit as I read what she wrote, “I love your laid back style way more than the posed stuff. These pictures definitely reflect my actual personality more and I couldn’t be more happy”. We were able to tell a little bit of her story. That was the highest compliment I could have received!
As I meet all these lovely seniors I think of the “village” it took to get them to where they are in life. It is hard work and takes a crew of people to raise a child who did well in high school and is college bound! Apparently, it also take a village to get me to reach my goals. The most recent improvement of my work, which is evident in Jordyn’s session, is also largely due to local Friendswood family and preschool photographer, Megan Thurman, with Megan Thurman Photography. (I ADORE her and LOVE, LOVE her work! I have at least 6 pictures she’s taken of my family on display in my home!) Megan has graciously taken me under her wing and helped me step up a level. She gave me a basic understanding of Photoshop, showed me an amazing place to find Photoshop Actions (HA! I had actually pinned that person a while back!), helped me figure out that my lens was back focusing (BACK WHAT!?! I actually thought he meant that I was incorrectly focusing behind the subject when Jerry first suggested my lens could be “backfocusing”) , and encouraged me to shoot more wide open (means more blurry background) than I am comfortable. Would you believe that she even let me borrow her old camera!?! My D3200 is not capable of calibrating a lens in camera so Megan let me take her old camera for a few months in order to determine if my problems were my fault or the fault of my gear.
Because of her generosity, I was able to determine that, yes, the gear was the problem. I had not planned on purchasing a new camera for several more months, but after seeing the improvement in my work from a 5 year old camera, my dear friends and my entire family encouraged me to invest in a new camera. (I’ll be posting a session soon with my calibrated lens on her old Nikon D300 camera.) My village to the rescue! So that I could purchase the camera, my sweet grandmother came on as an investor and my dad is letting me delay payments on the last remaining bit of my student loan. They claim they have only done this because they have seen my commitment to Shutterluv and have seen such growth over the last 1.5 years. I am so so thankful to have so much support everywhere I turn!
So, what does a new camera + beautiful weather + fun location + stunning senior girl equate to? Well, me having a really hard time narrowing down photos for this post! Wow, just WOW! I set out with the intention of getting 25 maybe 30 great photos. What did I come out with? SEVENTY FIVE! Honestly, I would be happy framing nearly all of those 75! Now THAT is impressive! Jordyn’s pictures are a game changer for me. I find it fitting that my maiden voyage with my D750 into this new chapter of Shutterluv was on a senior session! I’m so excited for what is ahead with this new piece of gear, just as I am super excited for what is ahead of Jordyn! Her session is one that I will remember vividly!