Becoming A Stronger Photographer: A Lesson with Strawberries

I purchased my first point and shoot camera back in 2008. I found myself traveling quite a bit and I wanted to capture all the special moments through my photographs. Back then I didn’t consider myself a photographer. I was a writer and stage manager that used my camera to take pictures of my travels and sometimes every day life.

Eventually people started adding photos to their blog posts. My blog was about five years old at the time and I figured I needed to follow suit. Sometimes bloggers would post other people’s photos…which is no longer cool or acceptable and sometimes they’d add their own photos. I started to follow suit…especially as it related to my food blog “Cafe LaShay.”

It took only a few months for a dear friend to point out to me that my photos were not good. She even volunteered to take better pictures for me for my blog. I never took her up on her offer. Instead I purchased a DSLR, a bunch of photography books and I had all of my photography friends teach me informal lessons on learning to take a better picture.

Recently I was thinking about my personal growth over the past three years when it comes to photography and the best way to show that growth is through a series of photos I’d like to call “Strawberries.”

The image below was taken in 2009 to compliment a post about midnight snacks. While I do think eating strawberries as a midnight snack is a great option, this photo however is not."Improving Your Photography"

1. The flash is not helping. These days I RARELY use the flash on my camera. I prefer natural lighting or lens that can handle low lighting settings.

2. The composition is not doing anything worth noting. My plate was on the counter. I grabbed my camera and just pushed the shutter release. Back then I seldom gave though to how the entire photo flowed. I didn’t pay attention to the background, layout, angles or anything. This photo embarrasses me now. Thank goodness for growth.

The next photo was taken in 2011 during my yearly Artist Retreat in Avon, Colorado. We only eat the best homemade food, snacks and wine and often meal time is the perfect time for photo ops.

"Fresh Fruit"1. Note the improvement on composition. You see how in the background you can see plates of other foods. They are intentionally blurred but still, the composition makes for a stronger shot.

2. Also the flash is OFF.

3. This photo could stand to be a tad sharper. The strawberries aren’t in perfect focus. The raspberries are fairing better but still this image is a HUGE improvement over the first one.

Lastly, I took a photo of more strawberries and other fruit during this year’s artist retreat in Avon, Colorado.

"Fresh Fruit"1. The difference between this and the second shot, is that I created the composition. In the second photo the layout of the fruit was already preset and I just happened to capture that. In this photo I placed each bowl of fruit on the table knowing I wanted to capture the shot.

2. Not only did I not use flash for this image, but I also found the perfect light. In the second image, I believe I turned on the lights in the house. In this image while creating the composition for the shot, I intentionally found the best way to capture the natural light.

This third image isn’t the best image of fruit in the world, but it shows me my own personal growth as it relates to photography. These days I understand light just a little bit more, I hid from flash, I consider composition, exposure, shutter speeds, ISO settings and f/stops. These days I’ll walk around the table to find the best angle versus just snapping a picture just to get the image. I’m a more intentional, adventurous, experimental and knowledge photographer now.

Well, the point is….I consider myself a photographer now. I can’t wait to learn even more.

Have you seen your photographic eye develop over the years? What has changed in the way that you take pictures?

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