Feeling somewhat confident about my photography skills, I set out last week to attend another meet-up with Kevin Vandivier, a founding member of The Gathering of Photographers. Attending these workshops is definitely a double-edged sword. On one hand, the criticism is necessary to grow and improve. On the other, the critique can leave you feeling unsure about your skills.
We were allowed to bring up to 15 images to be looked at in front of the group by a master photographer who has graced the covers of Life and Texas Monthly and shot for National Geographic to name only a few. Kevin is usually accompanied by Skeeter Hagler who just happens to collect Pulitzer Prizes… well, only one actually, but still. However, Skeeter was busy with family obligations, so we were only getting grilled by the one.
I kid when I refer to this as a grilling. Both Kevin and Skeeter have always been very professional in these circumstances. Not once have I felt belittled or chastised, and not once has it appeared that anyone else has. As luck would have it, I got to go very last. I had to sit through all the other critiques. I hung on every word trying to will myself to be a better photographer… hoping that some of Kevin’s wisdom and skill would reach me by osmosis. I watched him work in Adobe Photoshop and listened intently as he spoke of web traffic conversion rates. I heard things like: shoot from a different angle, indifference of lighting, compositional layering, negative tension and scraping the light.
I only took five images because I misread, misunderstood, or just plain forgot how many we were supposed to bring. I took three sporting images that were great—in my opinion, and two portraits that I knew needed some work. Both of the portraits were shot in harsh lighting and I used off-camera flash in both. In my heart, I already knew what my critique would be.
The three sporting images weren’t even mentioned. In my story, I’m going to pretend they were perfect. The two portraits were just as I suspected… they needed work. I needed to shoot from a different angle, lower my exposure and learn to light males differently from females.
Until the next Gathering of Photographers, I’ll leave you with my perfect image… yes, it’s still my story. And while it’s my story I’m telling, I’ll grace the cover of a magazine one day too. (Ssshhh…. don’t wake me.)
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co. in 2010 and I am one of the premier San Antonio wedding photographers who is available for local and destination weddings. In addition to wedding photography, I also specialize in high school seniors and family portraits in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. I am a professional photographer who enjoys documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I enjoy watching my daughter play softball, hiking, cycling and listening to Elvis!