Mar 31, 2011

The Contributors of LVP

Where We Began...
 Cindy Larkin: Founder/Contributor

I have been interested in photography since I was a little girl sifting through the pages of my own personal photo album.  But let's face it, just because I loved pictures and photography, did not mean that I started out as a good photographer.  Actually, my photography was quite dreadful when I first began and I specifically remember my husband sitting me down and telling me kindly, that I needed to read my manual on the camera that he'd just given me for Christmas, or I was never going to figure it out.  "Owning a camera does not make you a photographer ", so they say.  Although I agree with this statement, I really dislike the negative connotation behind it.  I had a camera and I wanted to be a photographer, but I was having such difficulty mastering it. 

I was angry and frustrated with myself because I had this natural longing to be a portrait photographer, and I also wanted to be able to take beautiful pictures of my children, but I had no idea how to use this brand new camera of mine.  In fact, I'd started reading the manual several times, but had thrown it down in dismay, when I couldn't figure out what it was trying to tell me.  I didn't learn well from simply reading about it.  I needed practical application and hands-on experience.  I learn kinesthetically, and the only way I could get a grasp of this new skill was when I really began to practice, practice, and practice some more.

At the time, I could not afford a photography class, but I was determined to learn so I set out to teach myself.  I tried in door lighting with cloth backdrops, clamp lamps and windows.  Then I tried outdoor lighting in full sunlight, overcast light, and shade.  I tried changing every knob on the camera and getting familiar with how each button worked, and which one was best for each light setting.  I tried reading the manual word by word, and then using my camera in practical situations to grasp what it was saying.  My children, our dog, and my sisters were my subjects.  I tried googling Nikon and Canon's websites, and browsing YouTube for videos and tutorials on everything, including how-to's on using photoshop, and tutorials on my specific camera.  It took hours, that turned into days, that turned into years [Yep, I learned the hard way]. 

Eventually, after I'd gone through several mediocre cameras and learned more about photography, my husband upgraded me to a nicer camera, and bought me some lighting equipment.  Then I started taking pictures for my extended family and friends.  On occasion, I’d even get a referral!  At first I could hardly believe that I was getting paid for playing, but soon I got repeat customers and more referrals! 

Around year three of my photography career, my sister got me a job with a small local magazine that thought enough of my work to hire me to take pictures for their customer ads. Up until that point, my title had always been “amateur photographer”, and I didn’t really see myself as a professional until the first day I saw my photographs and my logo on a prominent page in the magazine. This was such a boost to my “photographer's image” because now someone other than myself and my small clientele, was seeing my value as a photographer. Soon my logo and name got out, and I began taking pictures on a regular basis as a professional.

Even after being in business for myself for more than 8 years now [Cindergirl Photography], I still get excited every time I pull out my camera. I especially love to collaborate with other photographers and shoot just for fun. Shooting with other photographers, and doing it "for fun", is what has inspired me to start Las Vegas Photographer.

I am blown away with the talents of the photographers that I have had the opportunity to associate with on a regular basis. It has been such an education for me to put my fears aside and shoot and learn with them.  Letting them teach me, as I share some of my knowledge with them, has been a key component in my photography and I know it has made me a better photographer.  I believe that no-one is good at everything, but we are all good at something! We can learn so much more from each other, than we could possibly learn on our own.  I LOVE meeting, networking, and learning with you!  I personally invite you to come and share your talents with us! 

P.S.  I just opened up a facebook page specifically for my photography!  [It's about time, right?]  I'd love to connect with you. Come find me [here]!  :)

Photo by Yasmin Tajik
Amy Leavitt: Contributor

I started in photography in 2007 when I took a course at our leisure center on how to use my new Canon Digital Rebel xTi. I fell in love with it, as many do, and my kids soon developed photographers-child-syndrome. They ran and hid when I pulled out my camera...

And I sucked. But I thought I was awesome.

I took another course, from the New York Institute of Photography and began to really develop my skills. I started to understand how bad my photography was. I read everything I could online. I even tested the focus system on my new Canon 5d because I was sure it was unable to focus. It passed the test (shock!) and I understood on a deeper level that if I really wanted to be a photographer, I had to put in the time and effort to really learn it. I studied masters like Diann Arbus, Jacques Henri Lartigue, and Leon Levinstein, and most recently, Vivian Maier. I paid too much for an over-hyped workshop. I imitated other photographers I admired.  I practiced on friends and my own kids. I signed up with Kelby training to learn Photoshop better. Some of it worked, and a few things didn't, but I took giant steps forward to becoming a better photographer. I am now studying to become a PPA Certified Professional Photographer.

I run my own portrait business, Amy Leavitt Photography. When Cindy asked me to help with LVP, I was more than happy. It's fun! I get to discover new talent by handpicking my favorite photographers for the cover. I get to talk and interview with successful bloggers and photographers. Although LVP is for all photographers, I particularly love that it connects local Las Vegas Photographers.

I remind myself every day:
Nutella is not a food group.
Millions of women are doing laundry all day too, and are complaining far less.
I may not be beautiful, but my husband thinks I am, and that should be all that matters.
I have a house, a husband, and three kids who still like to kiss and hug me at bedtime. What's better than that?
Some people may not like me, but my dog thinks I'm awesome.
And from Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."


Larkin's said...

ahaha! Are you sure Nutella's not a food group?? You're hubby is right! You're gorgeous and I LOVE being in business with you! You make my life so much easier on so many levels. ;)

amy said...

You are golden, Cindy! I love working on LVP with you too, my friend!