How I Got into Photography, Learned it and Where I'm at Now

How I got into photography.
I didn't get in touch with photography through some magical or inspiring way. It was actually pretty common. After graduating highschool, me and my friends decided to celebrate that by going on a sunny holiday to Greece. Around that time I had a mild interest in photography. This interest came to be because one day I was surfing on the internet and I stumbled across pictures of the milkyway. In the comment section of those photos people were telling how to actually photograph the milkyway. I read that and it didn't seem too difficult. That got me super excited. Then I started doing research about camera's, which one should I get? While doing that research I also learned that photography is really a skill for life. You can use it in any situation and at any time. With friends, family, parties, on a trip, for school and also just for fun of course. With those three things in mind I bought my first camera, a Nikon D3200 with the kit lens.

How I learned Photography
I did not go to school for photography. Most of the things that I learned about photography, I learned through YouTube. Of course, just watching video's isn't enough. You might feel like you are making progress and learning, but it's far more important to actually put that knowledge to use! You have to actually be out there in the field shooting. Luckily that wasn't a problem for me. I was constantly out there shooting by myself, in the morning, during the day and even in the night. Cycling through my village at night doing astrophotography, waking up at 5 a.m. to capture the sunrise and so on. 
There really is no secret to learning. It's about a healthy balance between learning the theory and putting that theory to practice. 
I remember that it seriously took me weeks before I knew how to adjust the aperture on my Nikon D3200, there wasn't a dedicated button for that, you had to press a few buttons together and the icon for aperture ( the bladed circle ) didn't make any sense back then.
I think that if you want to learn photography, you really have to enjoy the process. Because you can't expect to have those beautiful, stunning jaw dropping photographs withouth putting the work in. You can't just enjoy the fruits without growing them or working for them.
And also, you can't expect to be a good, growing photographer when you only shoot during the holidays, when you're on a trip or when you have somebody to shoot with. The motivation has to come from inside of you. Friends and trips can help you to get motivated, but in the end I think it should come from inside.


Tips for Learning Photography

  •  Analyze photographs: ask yourself why you like a photo, why is it good? Really say it out loud, put it to words. Because if you can do that, then you also know what the ingredients are for a good photo and that allows you to recognise and create good photographs. It's like physics, you can't talk about Newton's Law of Motion if you don't understand, force, mass and velocity. The same goes for photography and art. Art of course is very subjective, so what do you  like about the photograph?
  • Compositions: when starting out, I would suggest to not worry too much about the technical side of things such as shutterspeed, ISO and aperture. Because there's a pretty good chance that your exposure will be just fine when you shoot in auto mode. I think it's far more important to pay attention to your compositions. Because even if all your settings are perfect but your composition is bad, nobody will want to look at the photos!
  • Feeling it: just grab that camera and get comfortable with it! Shooting must be fun, it should feel good.
  • Time: take your time. Learning in general doesn't happen instantly. Mess around, don't be afraid to fail, spin those dials and see what happens, that's how you learn.

My Photography Career Right Now

Right now I feel like I am at the beginning of my freelance photography career. As I said before, I did not go to school for photography. I did however go to school to study Industrial Product Design. About 3 months ago I actually graduated. Before graduating I never really felt any pressure with my photography. Now that I do have my diploma, there's also a certain pressure. I feel like I should have a steady income of money, like I should start working on that grown up life or something. Because having this diploma also means that I'm most likely able to get a normal job with a steady income. Working as a freelance photographer is anything but normal right now for me. The making photographs part is normal, but monetizing it, that's the big challenge.
While doing my graduation assignment as an Industrial Product Designer for a company called Playnetic, I also did photo and video work for them. They actually had more use for my photo and video skills than my product design skills. So after graduating there I kept working for them as an employed photographer, this really felt like a dream come true and it happened just like that. Right now I continue to work for them as a freelancer. It's not enough to cover the cost of an appartment, but I'm not complaining. 


These days I'm trying to find more clients, trying to collaborate with others, working on YouTube video's and making blogs. There's so much that I need to learn about taxes, administration, marketing, communication and more. Sometimes I feel like I'm being too hard on myself. I keep telling myself that I already should have been more ''succesful,'' that I'm not cut out for the freelance life.
Other times I tell myself to take it easy.
It's a scary journey with a lot of uncertainties but it's the journey that I'm on. I know that I want to work as a photographer more than anything else, so that's what I'm going for.

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