My so-far Journey in Learning Photographing (NaBloPoMo Day 19)

When I grew up, not many people had their photos taken, not to mention owning a camera. Photo day was a special day. We dressed for the occasion. I remember feeling different (excited?) on those days.

When I was a senior in high school, my brother Chris brought an old camera home. I took some photos of my friends. For me, camera was a tool to record our youth. Later I used the tool again when I was a senior in college.

My husband started taking photo when he was in junior high. After we got married, he automatically became our family photographer. Many years into our marriage, he started persuading me to play with a camera. I bought a point-and-shoot and loved it for many years. Of course that wasn’t what my husband had in mind. He bought me a big camera; I complained how heavy the new camera was every time I used it.

So, I was a happy point-and-shoot photographer for several years. I knew nothing about composition, exposure, DOF… Taking photos was “click, click, click”. I enjoy looking at my photos, but most of the time, I probably only looked at them two or three times.

Then I retired. Didn’t want to be bored, I decided to give photographing a try. Nikon D7000 wasn’t as heavy as others; that helped. I started watching YouTube, reading articles… A lot of time I had no idea what I was seeing or reading, but I didn’t stop. I became serious in photographing, and made some progress in recent years — this is what I really want to share with you.

1. Cee’s Photo Challenges

I was a blogger since 1999 (I believe.) I started blogging because I wanted to practice writing. By accident, I discovered Cee’s Photo Challenges (in 2013?). It took me at least 3 months to build up the courage to submit. When Cee featured one of my photos, I was thrilled. Other bloggers were very friendly. Every “like” or “comment” gave me a reason to continue shooting.

This was probably one of my biggest turning points. I really appreciate what Cee has done for many of us.

2. Photographer bloggers

I have benefited a lot from my online photographer bloggers. Whenever I had a question, I would post it here and soon an answer would arrive. It never failed. (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.)

3. Otto’s online workshop – Finding Your Photographing Voice

One problem I was facing was: I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I needed a direction; I wanted to take control. Taking a workshop seemed like a logical next step, so I signed up for Otto’s workshop.

I’ll be honest; I almost quit photographing after taking Otto’s class. I struggled a lot with my homework. Otto was helpful and nice. But it was clear to me that I didn’t have a bright future. If photographing was not for me, I wanted to start something new, maybe painting, as soon as possible.

It was many months later that I realized how much I had gained from Otto’s workshop. It gave me a solid foundation to build up my knowledge base. Even today, I remember what he had taught us.

4. Blogging Community

Our blogging community is great! I continued participating Cee’s photo challenge and met more blogger friends online. It has become a big part of my life.

5. 1-1 tutoring/ read manual

BUT, I still wanted to be a better photographer. Maybe a one-to-one tutor was what I needed? Finding a private tutor wasn’t easy. I didn’t know any local photographer then; long distance – I wasn’t sure it would work well.

Finding a shooting partner might help, I thought. By now, my husband had given up on me 😉 (Don’t worry. I have earned his respect back.) And I didn’t find any friend who needed a shooting partner as bad as I was. Oh well…

I started reading my camera manual line by line (the first time 😉 Knowing my camera, watching tutorial videos, and reading articles… I finally made some progress and became more confident.

6. XDrive Photography Learning

From Amy’s blog, I found out about Raj’s XDrive lessons. It is one of the best things happened to me for many reasons (other than the lesson itself): (1) it provides me an organized way to learn photographing. After reading Raj’s lesson, I usually search Internet to learn more on the subject. (2) it gives me a way to ask questions, and Raj always takes time to answer them. (3) after we do our assignment, Raj gives us his constructive feedback on each of our photos. Constructive feedback is hard to get nowadays. (4) I learn from other participants, too.

That’s it – my journey so far. I still have a lot to learn; I am getting better in learning. I want to share my experience, because I’m hoping it will help others. Since this is Thanksgiving week, please allow me to take a moment to thank everyone. Because of you, life is good.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in photo, photo and thoughts, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to My so-far Journey in Learning Photographing (NaBloPoMo Day 19)

  1. Raj says:

    Helen, that’s a great honour for me to be listed in your post this way! 🙂 Thank you very much for your kind words and the appreciation. Well, to be frank, I am not at all photographer, I am a man with the camera that’s all. I am just trying to show what I learnt so far and want to get my follower’s ideas. Many times I find that I am not 100% correct in my understanding when I see other’s contribution. Photography is about interpretation.
    Yes, it’s essential to do your own study and homework than just believing what you see on the internet. I know you put a lot of thoughts before you put up your post or a comment. That’s what makes you special.. Thank you for being with me and us, we all learn a lot from you… Cheers!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Raj. Sometime, I have those kind of feeling that no matter what I say or do, I can never thank a person enough, and that bothers me. I’ve never figure out a good solution for that, so I learn to live with it. Well, I just want you know that I am grateful for what you have done.
      Discussion — that’s what I forgot to mention. 😉 Photography is about interpretation — that makes discussion meaningful and useful. The discussions in this group have been wonderful!
      You are a photographer. If you are not, then 80% of us couldn’t be one either. SO, do us a favor, just say you are so we can say we are. 😉 I am still not sure how to define professional photographer, but in my definition, all of us are photographers!
      Good night.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Raj says:

    Sorry forgot to mention, the cover picture looks great! Better than the one you put up in the previous post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leya says:

    Your story is a bit like my story, Helen. And I regret deeply all those travelling years when my husband was the only photographer in the family. I wish I had started earlier! But, I am so grateful to you and other bloggers’ photographing and blogging about it – looking at others is very good for your own photography. Then Otto’s online course and then Raj’s good tutoring (even if I haven’t sent any pictures of my own). Thank you for this post, Helen. May we enjoy our photographing for many years to come!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you for your comment. I regret, too, but at the same time I don’t see I had a choice back then. I was a computer programmer who studied hard to be a writer on my free time. I don’t see there is any way to squeeze in photographing 😉 You probably had your attention at something else at that time, too. So, maybe there isn’t too much to regret. At least, we are enjoying it now and like you said, we can enjoy for many years to come. 😉
      have a wonderful day.


      • Leya says:

        I guess you are right, Helen…My husband always had a better camera and all, so why should we work double? he shot dia. Have a great day you too!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Helen C says:

          My husband still has better camera than I do 😉 But I like mine better because it is mine. Ha.
          I don’t know if you have the same experience… when we went to shoot together, quite often we would bring back several different photos. That makes me believe men and women are different. 😉
          Have a wonderful day.


  4. loisajay says:

    Helen–such a great post. And I totally agree with you about Cee, Otto and Raj. They are, all three, amazingly kind and patient teachers. You do your homework, and it shows. I am so happy your husband gave you a little nudge with the camera.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Cee Neuner says:

    You have come a long way baby!!!! You are constantly learning and experimenting and that’s what I adore about you. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. My brother got his when he was in Jr h, I was his model, didn’t like it. 🙂 Years later, I bought my own camera, I was after the new model, since it got easier and easier to use, until I bought my DSRL, was encouraged by a young co-worker (but he had no patience to teach). For a while, I had auto on all the time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Emilio Pasquale says:

    Like Amy, I want to thank you for your story. I began photography in the dark ages of b & w film in the late 1960’s. In college we learned processing in a dark room and printing our own photos. When I got married and had kids, I evolved from a photographer to a videographer. Finally I’m back to still photographer. But the world changed so much that I had to learn all over again and I did that mostly from youtube videos. Nowadays I rarely go out of the house without my camera. I love this hobby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thanks, Emilio. Your comment reminded me that I bought a good video camera, but only used it for a year. I keep thinking I would go back to use it, but so far haven’t found time to. (I am surprised that my husband haven’t complained about that yet 😉 So many wonderful bloggers here. I really mean it when I said this community is a big part of my family.
      Good night.


  8. Beautiful story Helen, we are always learning…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: XDrive Photography Learning – 16 – Contrast | The World Is a Book...

  10. DG MARYOGA says:

    Brilliant post dear Helen!Both your head b/w photo and the ethereal crimson leaf brilliantly accompanied your as yet photographic journey!Photography never stops evolving,blessed those who can learn and apply all those techniques 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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