WHY JOY-OGRAPHY: The birth of a workshop.

About 8 years ago my sister and I were talking and she said she had bought the cutest matching outfits for her daughters and since I had a nice camera she wondered if I could take them. I had a pentax point and shoot that my parents had bought me my senior year in high school and it took fairly good pictures so I said yes. These are a few of the pictures from that day.  I don't remember my theories exactly that day except there were a lot of pretty flowers and once I had seen a photo where the flowers kind of framed the image so I tried to copy that.



This photo below in particular I was proud of. I didn't know how it happened but I liked how the flowers had kind of filled with light and appeared to be glowing. I knew that something photographic had happened but I couldn't tell you what and I couldn't recreate it and that bothered me.


So for the next year little while I took more pictures of my sister and her family. And then friends started asking for me to do it too. I still left my camera completely on auto but tried to do some different angles and things. And it usually worked out ok. And slowly my business grew. Eventually I had a portfolio I would carry around with me with prices listed in the back. And I was a professional - meaning people payed me.  Meanwhile my best friend from high school, Marisa, was going through the same thing.  We'd call each other on the phone and commiserate about our failed sessions or the stress of being a professional but only slightly knowing what we were doing.

And the learning curve was steep. We both had entire sessions come back from the lab(remember these were the days of film) with nothing but black. It was terrible. We really had no idea what had gone wrong so every time we picked up my pictures we were was filled with dread.

I remember once a client who was unhappy with the pictures I took looked at a photo in my portfolio and said, "I want a picture like that one - how did you do that?" And I had no idea how I did it. It was just a stroke of luck - as were nearly all of my good images. I'd take as many pictures as I could and hope that at least one picture per roll of film was good. In that three years I went through 6 different cameras. I didn't know what to get so I just kept changing gear hoping it would be right. I asked professionals who were better than me and what gear they used then I got it - without having any idea how to use it. I remember in particular shooting a wedding two days before the birth of my second son - huge with child and three cameras hanging around my neck. I had been "professional" for two years and though my composition wasn't bad still most of my good images were due to luck.

Though very slowly I did get better.  I read every photography book I could get my hands on.  Often skipping entire chapters because I didn't understand what they were saying.   I scoured others websites trying to recreate what they had taken.  It was a process that took years.   But it didn't need to take that long.

A couple of years ago I had a good friend who wanted to get into photography and asked me for help.  And though I had done the same thing for others over the years this time I had gotten to a point where I really knew what to tell her.  I helped her choose her gear and gave her some "assignments" and I was amazed how quickly she improved.  She talked me a lot as well as others professionals.  Her example made me realize that if I had just been given the right tools and the right direction my growth would have been so much quicker.  I wouldn't have spent years relying on luck and my camera's auto mode to get a good image.   The trick was having someone who could help you understand what all of those chapters in those photography books meant, someone who could tell you why your images didn't work, someone who could tell you which camera to leave hanging around my neck.  I love to teach so excited to realize that I could be that person for others now.    And thus...the joy-ography workshop was born.

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