“Before & After” Photo Challenge

This week is a non-competition week (a.k.a. “Angie & Amy’s Week Off”) over at I ♥ Faces, and the purpose of this week’s challenge is to show how much our photography has changed and improved since we each first became interested in photography as a hobby. As Amy and I go through the entries each week, we are amazed at the improvement from the photos that were entered in our very first challenge way back in January to the photos that are entered now. You all are rocking your cameras!!

The big “I-want-to-improve-my-photography” moment for me came in the spring of 2008. We had owned our camera for over a year by that time, but I had only used it in automatic mode with the awful on-camera flash always on (what was I thinking?!)

Then my sister introduced me to The Pioneer Woman and I became fascinated with the photography section of her website. From her website, I began stalking Miz Booshay’s blog and started to realize…Hey, there are things I can do to make my photos look better! I want to learn how to do that!

At that time I just began shooting literally hundreds of photos every single day and browsing the internet trying to learn as much about photography as I could. My husband purchased Photoshop for me as a Mother’s Day gift in May and a laptop computer for my birthday gift in June (thank you honey!!) and I then began practicing editing photos every single day. It became an obsession to me and I slowly began to see improvement.

BEFORE (photo was taken in May 2008):
The main problems I see when I look back at my original attempts at photography were that I over-edited almost everything…too much contrast, too much color, too much brightness…too much everything!
BF - Weslea 08 2

I way over-used every Photoshop action I applied to my photos. At that point, I didn’t even realize that you could adjust the opacity of each action or that you could open most actions and adjust each layer inside the action. I also (apparently) thought it was a requirement to use a vignette on every single photo as well. lol!

BF - Weslea 08

Since that time I have read oodles of online photography and Photoshop tutorials and have made it a point to practice all the time. I now like to achieve a really natural look for each of my photos when I’m editing them…

BF-Weslea

After that, I then love to play around with different looks and feels…but only after I do my basic, natural-looking edit first.

BF - Weslea 70s

Looking back at my early attempts makes me very thankful that I didn’t make the plunge into being a professional photographer right away. Yikes! If I had charged anyone for those early photos I had taken, I think I would be so embarrassed of them now! I’m glad I waited and really spent the time trying to perfect my work before I decided to move on to the next level. I now feel much more confident in the proofs I will be able to provide for future customers….even though I’m sure I still have a lot of growing to do on this never-ending journey.

AFTER (taken August 2009):

Here are some shots from a senior shoot I just did this month. Some of these have a vintage and/or a more funky type feel to them, but I also have all of these finished in my basic edit as well for my customer to choose from…

Proof29b

60 - dandelion

Proof146b

I sure do wish that field of wildflowers would stick around for the rest of the year…it was such a pretty location to shoot in!

Thank you so much to each of you who join in the I Faces photo challenges each week. You all have been such an inspiration to me…what a fun way it has been for us all to grow and learn together!

Maybe I’ll even get to meet some of you in Dallas in November!! Just click on the button for more info…

DallasWorkshop