One Year Later: A Look Back at How I Became a Full-Time Photographer

Follow-Your-Dreams-Stephanie-Beach-Photography-inspiration-quote One year ago today I was working my very last day as an Environmental Engineer. It was at a job I had worked so hard for after finishing university and one that I was pretty darn good at, if I do say so myself (which I have to right now since I am the one writing this). But after years of disappointment and unhappiness, I realized it was time to move on and follow my dreams (and my heart).

(quick little side note/warning: this post is long and full of inspirational quotes because I couldn’t make it shorter nor could I think of more appropriate images)

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Inspiration

If you watch my Twitter or Facebook page you may have noticed a bunch of photos with quotes and inspirational phrases on them. I know they are sometimes corny, but every once in a while I find that they are actually really helpful. Every once in a while the right phrase comes across your screen right when you need it most.

Stephanie Beach Photography Inspirational Photo 1

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Sometimes I get distracted

I am usually a pretty focused individual. Able to work on a task from start to finish, or at least multi-task my way through it from start to finish. But every once in a while, I get distracted.

For the past few years, the things that have been distracting me are almost entirely photo-related (I’m talking 99.999% here). I am working away on some engineering task and suddenly it hits me, a fabulous idea for a shoot. Much like when I am inspired, I feel the urge to go out and shoot something. But this is different because I can’t just leave where I am and what I am doing to satisfy this craving. Instead I jot down a note, a title of a series or a bit of a session plan. Enough to get the idea out of my head and in some more tangible form I can shove into my purse to later be better described in my Idea Book.

Sometimes I even find myself getting distracted during my shoots. This normally doesn’t happen when I am shooting clients as I get so excited about them and the shots we are able to create that even when I get a little distracted, it is still about them and their shoot. No, I tend to get distracted during my own shoots. I will be out shooting something specific, like a museum or zoo during a trip, or friends at a party and then find ‘something shiny’ to shoot, something I find special. To be honest, I don’t even realize I have done it until later when I am reviewing the shots. My friends or family will look through them with me and see zebra, leopard, rusty thingamabob, lions, tiger – wait, what was that in the middle?

I love it. It reminds me that I really do love what I do. If the fact that I could (and have) rambled on for hours on end about technical and not-so-technical aspects of photography or the degree of fun I can have with my Idea Book and a free afternoon didn’t remind me enough, then this does. The little glimpses into new shots, new ideas amidst all the ideas and shots I was already working through that day and all of the ones already logged in my Idea Book. They remind me that there is so much more to shoot and so many more moments to capture.

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The above photo is one of those moments of distraction. I was shooting away in my backyard, a personal shoot for something completely unrelated. I turned around and saw the sun peeking through the lattice, and the dried up vine hanging on my fence. There was no choice – it had to be shot.

Inspiration

Sometimes it just hits me. Sometimes I just need a pen and paper and the ideas are flying out of my head so quickly I think I may have missed some. Sometimes the inspiration isn’t as clear, but I know I just need to get my camera and shoot something, anything really.

Then there are times when I am left scratching my head. Left without any ideas as to what to shoot, how to pose my clients or even how to edit the photos. During these times, I find myself needing a little inspiration.

Inspiration for me comes in many different forms. Sometimes all I need is a quiet space to clear my mind and rest. A space to focus on my art and what I want to get out of it. But sometimes I need inspiration from an exterior source. For this I turn to my books and magazines, and of course the good ol’ internet.

I follow many different photographers online, some conceptual photographers like Kirsty Mitchell and Scott Rhea and some fashion photographers like Emily Soto and Lara Jade. Portrait photographers like Anastasia Volkova, child photographers like the incredible Jinky Art, Simplicity Photography and newborn photographers like Keri Kay Photography. And of course, I follow many amazing wedding photographers like Feather & Stone, Ozzy Garcia, Tanja Lippert Photography, Barbara Ann Studios, Reg Campbell Wedding & Editorials, Mastin Studio, Fifteen-Fifty One, and Jasmine Star. I also turn to the greats like Yousuf Karsh and Malak Karsh, who truly are my favourite portrait and landscape photographers, respectively. But you have to be very careful when you take inspiration from those who shoot the same types of photos as you. You have to make sure you take inspiration and basic ideas and not their work, not their intellectual property.

Most of the time this is easy to do as often when I look at other photographers’ work, it acts as a jumping off point and though the original thought may have stemmed from someplace other than my head, the end result is completely different and truly my own. However, there are times when I get back to my computer and am running through the shots and see something that is a little too similar to someone else’s shot. At times like this I have to ask myself, did that come organically throughout the course of the shoot? If the answer is yes, then I roll with it. If the answer is no, well to be honest I haven’t run into this situation before, and I intend on keeping it that way!

Inspiration comes from many sources for many people. For me, it is all about balancing inspiration from within myself, those around me and those who came before me.

It’s about finding out who I am as a photographer and capturing the world around me the way I envision it.SMB_4872