Always Learning

When I was in grade 12 I was thinking of becoming an architect. My high school counselor told me that I may need a portfolio for this and advised me to take some college level night courses in the arts. I was already in love with photography so she suggested I start there.

For the next few months I went to St. Lawrence College every Wednesday and learned all about photography. We started with the basics, like how an SLR camera works, how film works, etc. and then moved onto more general concepts like composition. As digital photography was really just starting to get more mainstream, the course was completely film. We delved into film development and photo processing and after the first assignment, we had to develop our own film and process the photos ourselves. I absolutely loved it!!

At the end of the course we had to prepare a final project that was based around a general concept. Mine was on Manmade Pattern. The photos I submitted included a pedestrian bridge and a symmetrical fountain, both of which I was very proud. Looking back on them now, and I am still proud of them, but more for the process then the actual photo quality.

High school ended and I entered University, not in architecture but engineering instead. Through the next 4-ish years, I purchased multiple point and shoot digital cameras and took what seemed like a million photos (I am so glad to have those memories captured on ‘film’).  I dreamt of owning a DSLR and working towards becoming an actual photographer, and when I finally completed my program and obtained my B. Eng, I rewarded myself with my first DSLR.

Shortly after that, I realized that if I wanted to become a photographer I was either going to have to work with some pros or take some courses. As I didn’t know any professional photographers, and was too shy to approach any that I saw online, I went with the latter option and enrolled in the part-time Digital Photography program at Algonquin College. I spent one day a week for the next 4 years (mostly just Fall and Winter courses, though there was the occasional summer course or workshop) at the College learning everything from composition to lighting to Photoshop and beyond. I loved almost every course as much I did that first one at St. Lawrence. I tried to absorb as much information as I could from the instructors and with every course, I could see my skills improving. I also became far more comfortable with my equipment, which is something I take for granted now and then.

I finished the final course of the program way back in December. My final project was entitled 99 Luftballoons, a conceptual shoot that I had been saving just for this course. At that time; however, my life was pretty chaotically busy. Work was ramping up (or rather hadn’t slowed down since the last time it ramped up) and the wedding planning was in full swing. So I kind of kept forgetting to apply to graduate, until recently that is.

I sent in the paperwork (and more importantly for Algonquin, the payment for graduating) a couple weeks ago and my certificate came just the other day. Turns out, not only did I graduate, but I graduated with Honours!! I am pretty freaking proud of myself for this one and am looking forward to framing it and displaying it in the office alongside my and my husband’s B. Eng degrees.

This Certificate in no way means that I am done learning. Not only are there more workshops to be taken both in and outside of the College, but I will continue teaching myself and learning from other amazing photographers I see online. This Certificate has only given me the basis for my photography knowledge – to become truly great, I need to keep shooting!!