Before I began Greatly Loved, I had no experience in the art of photography. I had always admired from afar, but didn’t think to try it for myself. My husband had an old Nikon DSLR that I would pick up every now and then, but I never thought that my photographs were good enough to make anything of it. When it came time for Christmas, my husband decided that our couples’ gift that year would be a new camera, as he has interest in videography. I started with taking photographs of my friends and family, and my passion began there. I loved the joy that every photograph I took brought to my loved ones. These were moments that we will look back on 20 years down the road and have a good laugh, smile, and maybe even some tears. I loved this feeling, and I knew I wanted others to feel this same feeling by creating memories that would last a life time. This was the beginning of Greatly Loved Photography. Although I have only been a photographer for a year now, there is so much that I have learned in one year. I know that sometimes when starting out it can be overwhelming, and if I can inspire or help even one person, that is enough to make my effort worth it. Keep reading for a few tips on how I was able to turn from amateur to professional photographer..
1.Stay true to yourself!
         When I started out, I had a hard time being confident in myself. This led me astray from who I wanted to be as a photographer, and took the enjoyment out of it at times. I would spend hours looking at local photographers’ social media sites and compare myself to them. At the time, I didn’t even realize that was a bad idea, but these were photographers who have had several years of experience in photography, and even some who were formally trained. Each and every photographer has their own style and things that work for them. It may take you a while to develop your style, and that is perfectly okay! I’ve done 60+ sessions since I began, and I still haven’t developed my personal style. However, I know that my main goal is to provide an unforgettable experience for my clients and capture their unique spirits in each photograph. Keep your priorities on your clients’ experience and less on your technical ability – that will grow with your understanding of the art. Remain confident in yourself and don’t lose sight of why it is you have a passion for this amazing art form! 
2. Realize that the learning and growing never stops!
         Something that has helped me the most through my journey is the realization that I can’t know everything. Before I started Greatly Loved, I did hours upon hours of research. Of course, I began by researching how to use my camera, and then I moved on to research about posing, marketing, editing softwares, etc. The learning did not STOP! After every session, I made a list of 5 things that worked and 5 things that did not go so well. I would then go home and spend even more time researching before my next session. It is important to remember that the moment we start thinking we don’t need to learn anything is the moment we fall stagnant. Another important thing to remember is that your job as a photographer does not only consist of taking photographs and editing. Being a photographer is a FULL-TIME JOB. Taking photographs, editing them, communicating efficiently with clients, marketing your business, learning the ins and outs of social media, finding your place in your local market, properly protecting your legal rights and archiving your data – it’s all a learning process and staying committed and excited about the learning process is a huge deal.
3. Create deeper connections with your clients!
         I cannot express this enough! Often times as photographers we will be focused so much on having perfect lighting, exposure, and composition that it’s forgotten that there is someone on the opposite side of my lens waiting to share their story. Each client you have will have different interests, hobbies, and styles. But, most importantly, the level of comfort with being in front of the camera will change from subject to subject. Get to know your clients on more than just a surface level. Have an in-person consultation and treat them to coffee or send a questionnaire to your clients that will help you get to know them more. Connecting with clients is a forgotten art, and by doing this, you not only get a feel for what your clients may be comfortable with, but it also allows them to be familiar with you and not be so camera shy. My favorite practice is to have my clients pretend they are on a modeling shoot. Let them move, talk, go around their environment, and don’t have them in one pose for too long. Encourage your clients and continuously hold conversations with them, remaining vulnerable and human. After all, it’s always fun to make a new friend! Moving subjects look like they’re still moving even when captured in a still photo, and this takes a photo from a snapshot to a moment captured in time, expressing all the story and emotion held at that moment. A photo that embodies emotion will always speak louder than a picture that is technically perfect – this story-telling is what will make your images speak so boldly as a form of art.
4. Let your work do the talking!
         One of the biggest parts of being a photographer is marketing your business. However, we get caught up in creating marketing strategies like giveaways, adding more services than just photography, creating as many social media websites as possible, and begging our friends and family to share our work. Let’s face it though – what clients want to see is that we are able to produce content that captures the emotion, spirit, and heart of the subject. We all know that popular quote “If you build it, they will come,” and these words speak so much about our jobs as photographers. Showcase your work in places that potential clients will see it. Social media is huge in the contemporary marketplace for photography, and platforms like Facebook and Instagram make it incredibly easy to put your work somewhere that potential clients will be looking constantly. Here, your work is truly a picture saying a thousand words. To this day, I haven’t spent a penny on advertising. Constantly add to your portfolio, keep a steady stream of like-able, share-able pictures, and keep your priorities on your customer experience, and your work will market itself.
5. Don't be afraid!
Let me tell you, this is one of my biggest battles in life. I am always over-thinking things, making it hard for me to step out of my comfort zone. I will be on session, and say to myself “that could be interesting,” try it, and fail tremendously. However, there are times when I would tell myself the same thing and succeed at the shot I was trying to get. When starting out, we can do things by the book to avoid failure, but if we don’t fail, we will never learn from our mistakes. I’m going to be honest with you – you will probably fail 60% of the time. But, without that 60% rate of failure, the 40% of successful moments can’t shine through. You will never see that 40% if you don’t try. Even if we are not looking through our physical lens, we can still look through our world as if we were. Even when you’re not holding a camera, think about your surroundings and how you may try to photograph them. Don’t limit the creation of new ideas to when you’re holding a camera, and try out new ideas every time you’re behind the lens. The more you try, the more you succeed.​​​​​​​
This world is big and beautiful and provides many opportunities for us photographers, and that’s one of the most beautiful things about being a photographer. Stay confident, stay inspired, and continue learning!
Now, go take some photos!
Miranda West
*** if you have any questions please get in contact with me and stay tuned for more blog posts that will go more in depth within each of these topics!

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