Five Years in the Making: Personal Post

Everyone starts somewhere… and usually it’s not somewhere pretty. 
This is the abridged version of my photography journey. 

I credit my oldest son as being the inspiration behind my photography journey.  It’s photographing his life that has taken my mild interest in photography to a real passion.  He turns five this month and I wanted to showcase his five years of cuteness handsomeness alongside my five years of progress.


When Tristan was born, I had this little Kodak point and shoot.  I took lots and lots of snapshots but I loved playing photographer by having a background and a prop or two.  All I knew was how to click the shutter button and I honestly didn’t know there was more to photography than that.  I also had some basic photo editing software and I knew just enough to be dangerous.



 Sometime in 2007, I found a weekly thread about basic photography tips.  I think that was the turning point in my journey.  From that thread, I learned basic skills like not centering my subject and not using my on board flash.  Soon that thread linked to a board about photography and from that board, I was overwhelmed by all the knowledge I didn’t even know existed!  Shutter speed?  Aperture? I had no idea what those terms meant and no way to find out with my measly point and shoot.  It was time to upgrade.  We only needed to save up the money first…

Thanks to deployment pay (the only perk from deployments) I got my birthday/Christmas present, a Canon Rebel XTi and the 50mm 1.8 lens. I popped off one shot in auto then went into manual mode.  This is from the first week and it’s truly a lucky shot.  Back when all I had to do was “get the ticker to the middle of the meter” for perfect exposure.  I had no idea that my settings made no sense.

 Toddler in field


Now that I had a camera that promised to produce amazing shots, I studied like to crazy to learn how to use it.  I was constantly reading books and forums then trying to apply what I read.

I experimented and sometimes it came out cute and other times.. not so much.  Like most one year olds, he didn’t make much eye contact with the camera.

I took my favorite picture ever… and edited it horribly.  I’ve since reedited this picture with every new photoshop technique I’ve learned.  One day I will have this printed large and hang it in our home.
Saying Goodbye

When we moved to our new home, I was thrilled to be able to use garage light.  I set up my blankets but used fewer props than my early prop-filled pictures.  After a few set ups, I realized that the studio look didn’t thrill me beyond the purchase of a new prop.  For the sake of my sanity and my checkbook, I went back to outdoor, on location photography.  Tristan was now two and I constantly fought for that perfect smile but sometimes I got that perfect solemn face.

TristanT's Urban Shoot, Pic 2


For most of 2009, I was pregnant and had no motivation to get behind the camera for most of the year.  That year’s 365 project ended on January 3rd; I was so miserable with morning sickness.  I did manage to get a good shot of my husband and son with their matching high and tight haircuts.

Kevin & Tristan Tristan
In August, I got my new little model and poor big brother wasn’t the only face to focus on anymore. He didn’t complain though.
Fall Fun

Well, he did complain but he looked cute doing it.

Bah Humbug


I started to understand better lighting and I started to balance out my traditional poses with natural action shots.  I haven’t set him in front of a blanket in years because I’ve found the beauty of photographing him in his own element.  I started to venture away from the traditional look but struggled to break away from the “look at the camera” habit.


Tristan3 Heart Breaker



2011 has been the year of lifestyle photography.  In five years, my photography journey has become more about me because it is more about him. It’s not about the props, backgrounds, or posing, it’s about capturing him as he is right now.  My brain might be all about the technical aspects but my heart is all about the moments.  It’s about the balance of using technical perfection to capture these moments that I’ll never get back.  I can look at any picture and see how his hair has changed but these are pictures that trigger memories.

My journey isn’t over.  Just as Tristan grows and learns new things every day; as a photographer, I do too.  I look forward to many years of discovering more photography techiniques and more about my self as an artist.  More than all that, I look forward to being his mommy and being able to remember him being this small even though right now, all I can see is how grown he is.

Happy 5th birthday, Tristan!  I love you.

4 thoughts on “Five Years in the Making: Personal Post”

  • I have enjoyed following you on FB and your website. Thank you for this post. It’s fun to see how someone has grown in their craft. Would it be possible to get your resource info: i.e. the thread, board and books you mentioned in your post? I have my own photography “hobby” that I am trying to nurture and am always looking for good resources. Thanks so much Katie. Beautiful work!

  • Thanks Rebecca! The original thread on Babycenter is long gone and the old Photographing Your Family board on there is gone too. They do still have a photography board but it doesn’t seem as active. still continues to be a source of knowledge and inspiration. I’ve also been members of,,, and other forums that I find by searching the web. I’ve read several photography books but Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure was the one that I studied first.

  • Omg this makes me realize how fast time goes by! I loved seeing this and remembering when you first started out and how naturally gifted you are! You are an amazing photographer with a beautiful family!

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