We’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?
Well, here’s my story about how I, Coreena, came to be the photographer I am today.
My journey as a photographer has certainly not been a flawless path, though it’s been my path. I’ve gone from snap-happy traveller to photo-enthusiast and ultimately, to who I am now – an accomplished nature and wildlife photographer and nature-based local tour guide for photo-enthusiasts.
Along the way I’ve learnt so much, not only about photography, about myself too. This includes how I learn best and what interests me most. Though above all, I’ve learnt all I know with practice, patience and perseverance, along with the right help from the right person/people, at the right time. I’ve also learnt that it’s possible to conquer what we may not think possible, until we do.
Perception and circumstance
Even in my early years, I often believed that the photos I was taking were quite pleasing, even really good in some cases. As I travelled around Australia and abroad, I always had a camera in hand, taking photos to capture the moment and my experience at the time.
Still to this day, these photos evoke many memories of meaningful experiences in my life. In that way, they are absolutely brilliant, no matter what. And I am incredibly grateful that I invested so much time (and money) in taking so many photos. Dare I say, there is indeed a large number – a lot are stored away in sizeable photo albums.
These days, I look back on those photos and occasionally cringe at what I see. I try to remember what I was (or wasn’t) thinking at the time while taking said photos. Many of these are perfectly imperfect (and some are cringe-worthy too). Yet they were taken long before I ever thought I’d become the photographer I am today. Therefore, it’s quite apt to say that these photos don’t even compare to what I can (and do) achieve these days.
Learning curves and insights
While I had used/owned a couple of different pocket-size cameras since my teens, it wasn’t until around 2001 that I made an ambitious decision to purchase my first SLR (film) camera. I was ready to intentionally explore photography as a hobby during my travels around Australia as a tour guide.
As time progressed, I realised that I just wasn’t coming to grips with the settings I was using. I had very little to no idea what worked, what didn’t and why. I was shooting photo after photo, experimenting with different settings in an attempt to learn.
Purchasing and using many rolls of film and having them developed, only to end up with just a couple of photos here and there that worked out resulted in my interest in photography was becoming increasingly unaffordable and therefore less desirable. Although I kept field notes, even with those notes I struggled to understand why one photo worked and another didn’t.
Entering the world of digital photography
2004 for me was the around the time that digital cameras were becoming more affordable. So with my SLR film camera tucked away for good measure, I bought myself a compact digital camera. It was a 3MP (woo hoo!) camera – pocket size and marketed as the ‘ant’s pants’*. But it wasn’t! In fact, I did not like this camera at all – I’d even go as far as saying that it was ‘crap’! Lesson learned – I came to realise aspects about that camera that I didn’t like resulting in a better choice for my next digital camera. (* ’Ant’s Pants’ – Aussie slang for super impressive)
It was at this stage I asked myself ‘is it my gear letting me down?’. Or is it that I lacked a level of understanding about some fundamentals for photographing different subjects in different conditions? That is, the technical know-how, the jargon and all that jazz. I certainly admit to not comprehending exposure triangle, depth of field and the importance of appropriate shutter speed in the way that I (thankfully) do comprehend far better today.
A unexpected romance
All this time and for long before our paths crossed, Roy had unwaveringly pursued his lifelong passion for photography. Then about 14 years ago, Roy and I fortuitously met! To this day I still believe that it was our shared interests in photography and exploring the outdoors that were the real attraction for each of us, because we’re married, in business together and still pursuing our individual passions for photography to this day.
A ‘D’oh!’ moment
Amusingly, my first date with Roy didn’t occur before I sold my SLR camera, lenses, tripod, unused film, the works! All gone! And just 6 or so months before our paths crossed for the first time (D’oh!). However, I had replaced my SLR film camera (and the dodgy digital I first had) with a much better quality Sony digital camera. I continued photographing, just not with an SLR, film or digital, in the interim.
Not long after Roy and I met, it happened to be that Roy was ready to upgrade his DSLR camera (he owned a Canon 20D back then). He was in search of a way to justify an upgrade and purchase a later model DSLR. Suffice to say, I was rather delighted when he suggested that I ‘borrow’ his 20D, thus giving him all the justifications that he needed. This in turn paved the way for me having access to a magnificent DSLR. Now that was definitely a win-win right there!!!
And that was the moment that my photography really began to evolve. I was incredibly fortunate to have Roy by my side sharing all he knew, to interpret the jargon and offer me the tolerant guidance that I very much needed and craved – something I’ll be forever grateful for.
Fast forward to now…
I’m tremendously proud of my photography work today, especially knowing how far I’ve come. Though having this confidence in my own work has not come easy. I have struggled with calling myself a photographer for such a long time, even though others have admired and even purchased prints of my work over the years.
So, with that all said, with self-encouragement I am now proud to say publicly ‘I am an accomplished nature and wildlife photographer’.
Undeniably, I gain so much from photographing the natural world – the landscapes, places of historic significance, the natural environment, especially the native animals and birds that inhabit it. Photography gets me outdoors in nature – a place that I feel supremely at ease.
We all need to start somewhere!
Persist and persevere – especially if we’re captivated by photography as our ‘thing’.
More than photography
I realise this sounds cliché, but what fulfills me most is something far greater than pursuing my own photography or being a tour guide; albeit both a huge part of why I love doing what I do. Though I also love that I have the opportunity to share my approach, ideas, techniques, and my understanding of photography with other photo-enthusiasts. I feel like my purpose is to usher others on a journey of their own to discover, experience and photograph.
I am incredibly honoured that as a local Tasmanian tour guide (a different yet complementing journey), I get to share many rewarding experiences with our tour guests during their visit to Tasmania. I have the greatest opportunity to lead experiences that orchestrate an array of photographic opportunities that coincide with my interpretive narratives about Tasmania’s natural environment, history and lifestyle. I get to create the space and time that photo-enthusiasts need and enjoy while exploring the great outdoors – how lucky am I?
So what’s your story?
As we all know, photography is a subjective art and we often find ourselves comparing our work against others a little too much. This sometimes result in us individually thinking ‘I wish I could take photos like that’.
Rather if you compare your current work with photos you took in your earlier years, there’s a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far you have come with your creativity, knowledge and skill. The journey on the path of photography is a never-ending one. And it’s an awesome hobby for lifelong learners, because there’s always something new to learn, a different technique to try, and varying perspectives to compose.
I’d love to hear from you – feel free to share your comments and thoughts below
Now to share a few of my early day photos.
Be warned though, some should come with a cringe-worthy badge. The photos below are from a collection of gosh 20 or so years – many earlier photos I don’t have digital or scanned versions of, but the ones here I do. Now in small size they maybe don’t look so bad, but they definitely make me cringe knowing how far I’ve come with my photography. It’s kind of good to celebrate my early days as a budding photographer at the same time as being in awe of my present day creations.
Here’s a look at some of my images, the past and present.
I’m sure you’ll recognise which is from when.
Click on an image to view larger size