What got you into Photography?

Everybody has a story on why they got into photography and what event contributed to purchasing their first film or digital SLR camera. In my case, the decision was based solely on one picture that my wife sent me via Google Talk while I was at work – the picture of Omar in a cradle swing. When Omar was a few months old, Lola decided to take a picture of Omar on a very old Sony point and shoot camera that I had back from 2002. As with any other point and shoot that I had before then, I never knew anything about taking good pictures – I just pointed at a subject and took a picture without worrying about camera settings, ISO, aperture, shutter speed and other photography lingo that I had no clue about.

Here is the picture that started my journey into photography:

Blurry picture of Omar

I remember the day when I received it. Lola said that Omar started to smile and it was her attempt to capture the moment. It drove me nuts that such a beautiful picture turned out to be so blurry and we both agreed that we desperately needed a professional camera to capture those kinds of moments. Little did we know back then that it was the light and our technique, not the camera, that caused the above image to be blurry :)

Long story short, I came home and after a couple of hours of research, bought our first DSLR – Nikon D80 kit with an 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

So, what is your story and what got you started in photography?


  1. March 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Wonderful story. And I can just imagine your frustration. That happened to me a lot with my children, too. I’d grab my compact camera but by the time I’ve got it turned on, the magic moment that I wanted to photograph’s already gone.

    My story? We went to Mt. Bromo in Surabaya. Someone lent me his D80 during that trip. When we printed out the photos, they all came out like postcards. I ended up buying a D40 soon after that. Pics from the trip here, in case you haven’t seen them yet: http://www.sleeplessinkl.com/2009/09/11/mt-bromo-one-of-the-worlds-most-ethereal-landscapes. All pics shot with a D80 and 50mm f/1.8D lens.

    • March 24, 2010 at 1:49 am

      Mimi, thanks for sharing! The story and the pictures are really awesome!

      Did you just shoot with all the default settings in auto mode, or did you know how to use a DSLR from before?

      • March 24, 2010 at 6:57 am

        I shot the Bromo pics in Aperture mode. I can’t remember the settings anymore. I was mostly experimenting but had some help from friend who was traveling with us at that time.

        I used the same camera a couple of times before the trip to learn how to hold it, how to focus, how to avoid camera shake, to get familiar with the basic controls.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 24, 2010 at 11:56 pm

          It is great that you had some camera training before the trip! :)

  2. March 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

    You son is so cute.
    I only got intrested in photgraphy after I started my food blog and seeing all the pics made by other food blogs, I don’t think i would have bought my Nikon 5000 if it was not for my blog, i would have still taken pics with my old Nokon point and shoot camera.

    • March 24, 2010 at 1:51 am

      Finla, thank you for sharing! :) Your food pictures are getting better and better and I’m sure you are enjoying your time with the D5000, it is a superb camera!

      • 2.1.1) Happy Cook
        March 24, 2010 at 2:00 am

        Thankyou, I am learning, with all the help i am getting. As i have told before I am not a tech savy, so it takes a bit longer to figure out :-)

  3. March 23, 2010 at 5:00 am

    I agree with happy cook… I have always used the camera to record work things and some personal photos… but very mediocre and I didn’t care much about it. Once I started the food blog and saw my pictures were dull and boring I realized I had to do something and started working on it. Since I worked in the film business, it was especially frustrating since for a while the more I worked on technique the worse my eye seemed to get! It is starting to level off and my eye is returning. I am beginning to think of it as play as I get more comfortable with the machine.

    You have been so helpful in this process with your sage advice. I always need to remember, I’ve only been working at this 4 months!! What I want is a whole week to play.. oh if there were only time!

    • March 24, 2010 at 1:56 am

      Deana, thank you for sharing your story! Your last pictures of asparagus came out great, looks like you are getting a hang of your D80 :)

      And yes, do not rush with photography. You have been doing it for 4 months and already know so much. I shot in auto mode without knowing anything about camera settings for almost a year, so you are doing much better than me in the beginning :)))

  4. 4) Kerry
    March 23, 2010 at 5:23 am

    I have quite poor eyesight with only good vision in one eye. I wanted to be able to see all the beautiful things that nature places all around us everyday: lichens, leaves, flowers, insects, birds, the intricate patterns of the wild world. The camera and a zoom lens, or a macro, give me that opportunity. I can bring the world into my home and view it in close up.

    • March 24, 2010 at 2:01 am

      Kerry, you have a wonderful and inspirational story, thank you for sharing!

      You have an amazing talent and I love your photography. Your pictures of birds and wildlife are absolutely stunning. Please keep up the good work and I hope to see more beautiful images from you soon.

      Keep in touch and thanks for visiting us and dropping a comment!

  5. 5) Mike
    March 23, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I grew up in the Amazon, in Brazil, where my Dad helped people learn how to grow vegetable gardens and about nutrition. After I came back to the USA when I was 16, I kept a real fondness for the people who lived along the rivers and the way of life there. A few years ago I was able to return and visit, and started taking some pictures with a Canon 3MP point-and-shoot. I quickly realized that I loved telling the story of these river dwellers, but that I knew nothing about taking good photographs. The next trip I took was with a Nikon D70 and some inexpensive lenses, and I had started to read and practice my techniques. I again quickly realized the limitations of my equipment and my skills. My most recent trip there was with a Nikon D300 and mid-level lenses, and the results finally started to be satisfying. I was able to produce a self-published book for my family and friends just for the fun of it, and that was the final straw. I have just ordered some really great lenses, and will be going back again in June to see how I can do. The goal is to document and share a way of life that is truly unique in the world, and also to preserve for my children images of where I grew up and how their grandparents gave up many comforts to help lots of folks live better lives. Thanks for a really great blog by the way!

    • March 24, 2010 at 2:03 am

      Mike, thank you so much for sharing your story! I would love to see some of your pictures from Amazon, it is my dream to go there someday and take some pictures.

      What kind of photography do you specialize in? Landscapes? Wildlife? People?

      • 5.1.1) Mike
        March 25, 2010 at 10:58 am

        Thank you for your reply, and especially for your excellent blog. It has been a great help to me in learning more about photography, and I already look forward to each of your new entries. Your ability to break down complex subjects into understandable reading is truly a gift.

        When it comes to the photography from the Amazon, I have really focused on the people, and trying to convey a sense of what their life is like. Below is a link to the book I did, but please forgive the very obvious flaws in many of the photographs. Some of the better pictures are towards the end of the book, and I will be making a new version when I return this summer. Most of the photos were taken while in a small boat and on-the-move and in many different lighting conditions, and my experience with rapidly adjusting settings and selecting the right lens is still very basic. Over time through experience and reading helpful blogs like yours I hope that better quality will emerge, and that what will result is just a great story.


        As for traveling to the Amazon, it is now much easier than it used to be to get there. One used to have to take multiple airplanes and fly all the way to the south of Brazil and then back north again. Now there are direct flights to Manaus, which is 1,000 miles up the Amazon River. These new flights leave directly from Atlanta or Miami on Delta and a Brazilian airline called TAM. Manaus is just a 5 hour flight from Miami, has excellent hotels, and is a great place to visit.

        Outside of the Amazon I have focused mostly on nature, and one of my favorites has been a photo of a Rosey Maple Moth in the process of transforming from a caterpillar to a moth, and it’s on a Pink Lady Slipper. Through nature’s miracles, the color of the wings is the same color of the flower petals. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and got the entire sequence of the transformation. The link to that one is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/57988534@N00/3549750319/

        Again, many thanks for your outstanding blog. You have a real gift and I am thankful that you have chosen to share it with us.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          March 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm

          Mike, thanks for posting such a detailed comment about your experience in Amazon. Your story-telling photographs are beautiful and very inspirational! I’m hoping to go there someday…

          PS. The moth pic is amazing!

  6. 6) JK
    March 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    My pets, my passion to share my life and tell my story to the world.

    • March 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm

      JK, your pets are super cute, especially the guinea pigs :)

      Thanks for sharing!!

  7. March 25, 2010 at 3:13 am

    One more thing: There are a few of you out there who are insanely generous with their camera advice… I am so grateful!

    I also wanted to say I am loving using the bounce materials that I got. I use the gold all the time and the two white ones come in handy on the windows to filter the light. They are not terribly expensive.

    I still have trouble having only two hands and wish I had multiple c- stands with gobo heads, arms and clamps, flags and cookies (they cast appropriate shadows) to do it right. When I did tabletop, the DP would use 10 stands for a little area as well as the giant overhead soft box and multiple pin spots and gels. There is a reason that their stuff looks so perfect!

    I think most important is the eye. As I said, at the beginning I was so focused on the damn camera I was not framing the photo very well. I was consumed with technology and having a terrible time with blur and focus. The remote cord for shutter release has helped considerably with camera shake. I still have trouble with some photos at Foodgawker. I don’t even bother sometimes after I look at the sample.. it is muddy and blurry even though I know the shot is not. I don’t get it.
    They rejected the asparagus which I really liked and many people… including you did too!

    When I get the mechanics down… the most important thing is vision. Too many people just copy what everyone else does. Photos are only great when it is personal.

    I am getting better at photoshop.. I love the curve(under Image>Adjustments)! I am also thrilled when the photo doesn’t need anything done save for a crumb being removed.

    You should get on the foodgawker page for photo suggestions. write to them… they have a whole section about it and that was where I started.

    thanks again


    • March 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Deana, thanks for sharing!

      I too wish that we could use better gear to photograph food. However, Lola cooks the food for us to consume, not sell, so we only have a few minutes to take pictures before the food is exterminated :D

  8. 8) shourya
    May 29, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Since childhood, I’ve always loved the wonders of nature and wanted to capture those beautiful sunsets, colorful birds and flowers and picturesque valleys and hills. Please take a look at my photos I’ve clicked with my Nikon D5000.

    • June 5, 2010 at 11:36 am

      Shourya, thanks for sharing! Your crow vs eagle picture is cool.

      Good luck with your photography!

  9. 9) Eric
    August 27, 2010 at 8:05 am

    I was always interested in capturing “story”. The picture is worth thousand words. My goal is to capture photos like henri cartier-bresson’s. I love taking pictures that tells story but it’s not so easy sometimes. I will try though, always.

    • September 2, 2010 at 1:17 am

      Eric, I know exactly what you mean and I’m hoping to become a good photographer one day myself :)

  10. February 13, 2011 at 8:27 pm


    When I was a young child my Mother wanted to attend college to take photo journalism. I do not recall the year as I was real young at that time. She went out and bought an older used 35mm film camera (Minolta I believe) and started to look into her studies. She soon found that as a single mother she was not able to afford the course books and other fee’s that were required so she stopped attending the classes. That did not stop her from playing with her camera. I do not remember when the shot was taken but I remember that around the age of 14 she hung the print up in the livingroom. I was in awe over the shot. It was a very simple shot where she stood on a bridge with her camera and tripod and turned the shutter speed down so that she could have the trails of lights from the vehicles tail lights. I absolutely loved that picture and was stunned by how well it came out with all of the detail in the surrounding buildings and seeing the light trails circle around a few buildings.

    After seeing the print I cautiously asked her if I could try taking some shots with her camera. It was a full manual camera as at the time they did not have all these fancy auto features :)

    She told me she would let me use it only if I promised to treat it like gold. It was not the most expensive camera but with the limited income if I were to damage it she would not have been able to replace it right away. I do not recall taking any stunning shots most were blurry or under/over exposed. When at school one day practicing with the camera a teacher approached me. I knew who he was but had not had that much interaction with him. He was a photo journalist for the local newspaper (http://www.manchesterjournal.com/). He liked to see students showing an interest in photography and since the school had a dark room (I never took any courses) he offered to provide me with all the black and white film I could push through the camera. He also used the dark room to develop all of my film. This was a great thing because at 14 I did not have the funding to continuously develop film at the lab. I did get a job when I turned 14 counting bottles so that I could get film developed among other things.

    As a high-school kid I quickly got bored with the manual camera or always found something else to do so I ended up forgetting about photography.

    When I was about 25 I bought my first DSLR Canon EOS 20D from a camera company which offered a kit that had a few lenses and all the other swag I needed. At this point I was in the mind-set that I was not going to take great photos but rather the nice expensive camera I bought was going to do it for me (such amateurish thinking) so I really never looked into how to fully use the camera. I would leave it on auto and I got some pretty good shots. I was also notorious for throwing it on high speed burst shooting and hoping to get a good shot out of the 100 I took.

    I no longer have the 20D and I have been dying to start getting back into photography so I went out and bought the EOS 60D that came with the EF-S 18-135mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS lens. I have been doing all of the reading I can to get up to speed on how to use the camera (I think it is starting to get to my fiance just how much I am putting into this).

    With reading your blog and also another great tutorial blog (don’t want to spam your site with a competing url :P ) I have been able to get up to speed rather quickly and for that I thank you and your wife.

    I must state that until this week I really was not aware that she was attempting to take photo journalism, I just remembered her having the camera and thought she knew how to use it to it’s full potential. This week however she told me the story and enlightened me to the fact that she was just playing around with the camera and not doing anything serious.

    I now feel bad that my mother was not able to fulfill her dream of photography so my goal is to try to fulfill that on her behalf. Honestly after knowing this I wish I could afford to go buy her a starter DSLR so that I could help her get back on track to fulfilling her dream. Maybe I will be able to do that for her in a few years.

    Anyway that’s my story even though it’s not as amazing as the Amazon and others on here I felt I would share it.

    Joseph Crawford

    • February 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Joseph, what a beautiful story – I read it with great interest. Thank you so much for sharing. I wish you luck and I hope you can showcase your work to your mother someday, making her feel proud!!!

      Have a wonderful weekend and sorry for a late response.

  11. 11) Hannu
    July 11, 2013 at 2:33 am

    Hi Nasim!

    My daughter started competitive artistic gymnastics when she was five. A year later, I thought to shoot some photos in the first competition she attended. The photos I took with my pocket camera turned out… well, bad.

    For the next competition I bought a D7000 with a AF-S Nikkor 18-105 mm f/3.5-5.6G kit lens. When that didn’t help very much, I started to study and act according to what I learned. And eventually the photos got better.

    The basic problem turned out to be the poor lighting in all the gyms. Naturally flashes are strictly forbidden – for the athletes’ safety in mind. At the same time the shutter speed required too freeze the action is something like 1/800 or 1/1000 s.

    Now, three years later I’ve found out that one solution is to get close to the action. Nowadays I can to that, because I know the people who arrange the competitions and they know and trust me not to get in the way of gymnasts performing. I also share my photos with the clubs.

    I shoot with a D4, which is outstanding piece of equipment with a fast burst shooting mode and a really good, but not perfect, AF-C tracking. It is hard to capture sharp photos for instance of a tumbling pass if the gymnast is coming towards you.

    My most used lens is a AF-S Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8 which I use wide open. If the gym is really badly lit, I might even use a AF-S Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4. Of my lenses, only these two are fast enough to freeze the action in adverse lighting conditions. Of course these apertures cause shallow depths of field, which can lead to photos slightly out of focus. Maybe 20 % of my gymnastics photos are not keepers because of blurry focus.

    Also AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 is a great lens for shooting when the gymnasts are momentarily frozen between faster moves, but not fast enough to freeze action.

    I’m still in the process of learning and hunting for the perfect shot:
    – my daughter in the middle of a difficult vault or something else
    – perfect execution of the move (this is important for her)
    – sharp focus, at least on her face
    – an interesting facial expression
    – not too much distraction in the backgroud – this is very difficult in the gyms we go to

    I’ve also started to shoot other things than gymnastics and learned a lot from this blog too. So thanks for sharing your expertise!


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