My Photographic Journey

Dec 28 2009

Photographic Inspiration

Photo by Scott Stulberg.

I was just looking through my portfolio this past week and physically cringing at how bad some of my old shots are. I almost deleted them from my Flickr stream, but then I realized that each photo represents a part of my photographic journey.

My photography evolved a lot from the days when I use to take pictures of Pez, cupcakes, and interesting trash I found in my back alley. It seems so silly now, but had I not spent everyday shooting, learning, and exploring the world with my camera, I wouldn’t be taking the pictures I am taking today.

Superhero Pez

Super hero Pez. Canon Xti, 50mm f/1.4 lens, 1/60, f/5.0, ISO 100.

I bought my first dSLR, the Canon Rebel Xti (400D), in November 2006. I had one lens other than the crappy kit one, the 50mm f/1.4, and I shot absolutely everything on it. From concerts to portraits to landscapes and nature I took that lens on many adventures. Unlike a zoom lens, a fixed prime lens forces you to physically position yourself to get the shot. That usually means getting up close, lying on the floor, or squeezing your body in crazy spots to get decent angles.

I spent almost a year shooting exclusively with the 50mm f/1.4. I couldn’t afford another lens, so I just had to make do with what I had. I think this forced me to learn the basics of photography (exposure, light & composition) and really know how to use my camera.

abstract of a large leaf with raindrops

Xti, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/320, ISO 200.

I shot almost everyday. I went on photowalks and started shooting things around my neighbourhood, and the beautiful landscapes of Vancouver. Whenever I traveled abroad in the next year, I took thousands of pictures. Some were good, some were meh, but the sheer act of taking pictures everyday made me a better photographer.

Photographing Chichen Itza

Photographing Chichen Itza, Mayan Riviera, Mexico.

Because I only had one lens at the time, and no money to buy another one, I started renting lenses for specific shoots or just for fun. For $35, I could rent a $1500 70-200mm IS f/2.8 for an entire weekend. I rented everything from wide angles to macro lenses to honking zooms, experimenting with different subjects and styles of photography.

lens flare sunset

Sunset Flare, Xti, 70-200mm IS, 70mm, 1/250, f/7.1, ISO 200.

red boots 6/365

Polish dancing boots, Xti, 70-200mm IS f/2.8 lens, 153mm, 1/80, f/2.8, ISO 200.

Bokeh & The Spider

Canon Xti, 100mm f/2.8 lens, 1/80, f.2.8, ISO 100.

Water <3 World

Xti, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 200.

I didn’t read many “how to” photography books (too boring) or take classes (too expensive), I just spent hours on Flickr and other photographer’s blogs. I connected with these photographers, asked them questions, shared my photos, and studied theirs.

I learned what I needed to improve on and what style of photography I liked. I was immediately drawn to colour and magic hour light. The subject matter I found most intriguing was people. But, people were not as easy to come by as trash in my back alley.

Jessie Farrell & Fancy Wallpaper

Jessie Farrell, Canon Xti, 50mm f/1.4 lens, 1/30, f/1.4, ISO 100.

I begged everyone I knew to let me take pictures of them. And if they said no, I snuck candid shots when they weren’t looking. At the time, I was also spending a lot of time shooting Jessie Farrell (Canadian Singer/Songwriter) and her band on their first year touring Canada.

I followed them around snapping their performances, as well as the behind the scenes moments. I learned a lot about shooting in hectic places with really difficult lighting. This gig also connected me with other musicians who wanted promo photos for their websites and promotion.

Kylee Epp Promo Shot

Canadian Singer/Songwriter Kylee Epp, Xti, 50mm f/1.4.

Jesse Godin (Drummer) Promo

Jesse Godin, Xti, 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, 18mm, 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 100.

When I couldn’t find any people to shoot, I photographed animals. When I was traveling in Australia, I took a series of “animal portraits” of the fabulous creatures I found. Again, I only had one lens with me, the 50mm f/1.4, so I really get up close to these animals to fill the frame. This was ok with koalas, kangaroos, and lorikeets, but not so much for man-eating crocodiles and sharks.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeet, Xti, 50mm f/1.4mm, 1/100, f/2.0, ISO 100.

Sleepy Kangaroo

Sleepy Kangaroo, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/5.0, 1/250, ISO 100.

Lovely Currumbin Koala

Koala. Xti, 50mm f/1.4 lens.

I also experimented taking artsy shots with the LensBaby Composer. I’m not the ‘artsiest’ photographer. I’m more inclined to make photos as realistic as possible, which is part of my debate with HDR photography (which I did learn how to do by the way :P). Nevertheless, this lens gave me a new perspective on the types of shots I could get with my camera.


XSi & LensBaby Composer.

Painter's Lodge, Campbell River

My first HDR :P

After a while, I got bored of just taking pictures of things that I was just observing and wanted to create shots I could control. I was also modeling at the time, so I took particular interest at my own shoots and started grilling every photographer I worked with about lighting.

This is when I discovered David Hobby’s Strobist blog. The DIY off-camera photography he was doing and talking about was exciting, challenging, and oh so sexy.

Super Summertime Strobe Setting-up

Setting up the strobes for a summer shoot.

It took a while to accumulate the gear I needed to take great portrait shots; 3 strobes (580EX & 2x430EX, two umbrellas, stands, & the Alien Bees Cybersync Remote System), and a long while to actually learn how to use it.

I won’t lie, when I first started using strobes I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was even kind of scared of them, so I asked people who knew what they were doing, and watched and learned. I found a few settings that worked and practiced a lot. Once I’d learnt the basics, I started to experiment, sometimes even on the job (shh.. don’t tell), but usually taking pictures of myself.

Then, Alex Lindsay of TWiP (This Week in Photography) asked me to fly down to San Francisco be a guest on his popular photography podcast. I really felt like a n00b photographer then especially compared to one of my heroes, photojournalist, Steve Simon. I felt like I hadn’t done anything of note, just taken some nice photos. In fact, I’m sure that at first I was interviewed more for my modeling talents than my photography. My Flickr stream did contain more pictures of me than by me.

Lisa in Jamaica Sunset

Xti, 50mm f/1.4 lens, 1/100, f/4, ISO 100.

Being on TWiP was a huge wake up call. I realized then, that if I wanted to be a photographer, I had to step up and know my stuff. I couldn’t rely on being a pretty girl with a camera that took pretty pictures. I had to get down and dirty with photographic theory, photoshop, the technical specs of my gear, and build a portfolio with content in a style that I wanted to actually work in.

I was inspired by photographers like Nick Onken, Chase Jarvis, Joe McNally who had unique and strong styles and got hired to to do major commercial work in this style.

Beautiful Shauna

Shauna, Canon XSi, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/200.


Canon XSi, 24-105mm f/4.0 lens, 45mm, 1/100, f/4.0, ISO 100.

Zara with 2 Strobe set-up

Zara set-up shot.

I decided I wanted to shoot portraits, beauty, and fashion. I really needed models to shoot portraits, beauty, and fashion photography. I bought a second awesome prime, the 85mm f/1.8 and put up a profile on the social networking site “where professional models meet photographers, ModelMayhem. I’d found some great models to work with and I booked four for the next week. A Canon Canada Rep was nice enough to send a XSi (450D) loaner to me, so I had an extra body on these shoots.

Rockin' Bella

Bella, Canon XSi, 85mm f/1.8 lens, 1/125, f/2.8, ISO 100.

I really wanted to push myself to see if I could actually create the images I wanted. After the first shoot, I realized I needed a professional makeup artist and a stylist because I am absolutely rubbish at these things. So I brought Mika (MUA) and Tami (Stylist) on board.

They helped me develop the concepts I wanted to shoot, and make sure all the details (hair, makeup, clothes) were there.


Sexy Stephanie, Xti, 85mm f/4.5, 1/125, ISO 100.

Stephanie backlit setup

sexxeh steph

Canon Xti, 85 f/1.8 lens, 1/200. f/4.5, ISO 100.

Steph set-up shot

I also knew I had to become fluent in Photoshop (CS4), so I buckled down and learnt how to use it. I spent days perfecting images, learning techniques, watching every retouching tutorial on and finding out the best and most efficient ways to retouch and process my images. Once I’d mastered the basics, I started to explore different processing styles.

I spend hours scouring photographer’s portfolios and flickr to find inspiring shots and trying to emulate them. Through this process I learnt all kinds of PS ninja tricks and started to develop my own style.

franziska's rainbow eyes

Xti, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/2.5, 1/100, ISO 100.

I could shoot, light, and make sweet pictures. All I needed was a kick ass camera. I’d spent 2 great years with the Xti, but I’d grown out of it. I needed something full-framed and powerful, so I bought the Canon 5DMKII. I’ve never looked back.

Jesse Tucker, guitarist, singer & songwriter

Canon 5DMKII, 50mm f/1.4 lens, 1/125, f/5.0, ISO 100.

Jesse Tucker set-up

After 2 1/2 years, I feel like I’ve perfected amateur photography. Now, I’m ready to work as a professional. And so my next photographic journey begins! Wish me luck!

Nicole's Baby Blues

Canon 5DMkII, 85mm f/1.8 lens, 1/80, f/2.2, ISO 100.

*i don't love you anymore*

5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8, 1/500 at f/5.0, ISO 100. Natural light & white reflector. screenshot
Visit my portfolio for more photos.

Questions? Comments! You know where to leave ’em.

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147 Responses to “My Photographic Journey”

  1. It’s great scrolling through these photos and watching your early photography morph into a kind of ‘über-photography’. :D

    Just in the time that I’ve been following your blog, I’ve seen one heck of a photography journey. Well done, Lisa! Keep it up!

  2. […] This post was Twitted by carlonicora […]

  3. Thanks Lisa, this is really interesting. Good luck – not that you’ll need it :)

  4. Weird, I have a Gravatar account…. Still, nice little chap!

  5. Great shots and a great way to show your evolution as a photographer. Kudos!

  6. Hello Lisa

    this post is very nice to read and very refreshing ! Your style is very good and you give hope to all other amateur who would have similar stories !

    I wish you good luck !

  7. your post is very inspiring. :) thank you for sharing. im actually stuck in a rut of being a newbie- for almost two years now. thanks :)

  8. Lovely article and reassuring reading for others like myself currently on our own photographic journey. I especially love the pictue of “Canadian Singer/Songwriter Kylee Epp”, the lighting (given the situation) is outstanding!

    Best wishes :)

  9. maybe you can also post the kinds of filters that you use. and oh, the mandatory, “what’s in my gear bag” photo. :) please?

  10. Great post, good luck – I’m on a similar journey, but taking longer :P

  11. That was the longest post, but well worth the read. I’m curious why you chose (1) 580EXII and (2) 430’s? Was it the cost or is there a functional reason? I’m looking for a third flash to use behind the subject for a rim light.

    Great post, you are about a year ahead of me in my photographic journey. I’m hoping to be where you are today. Great work!

  12. Great post Lisa!

    As a [very] amateur photographer I’ve looked at your work for inspiration, and look forward to reading more of your witty posts.

    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Awesome following your journey right from the early days Lisa. You’ve certainly inspired me and hopefully soon I’ll be joining the 5D Mark II club.

  14. Nice pics, stoked I stopped by.

    Will be back

  15. Thanks for posting this. It’s a real inspiration. :-)

  16. Thank you for this post Lisa, I really enjoy your pictures!!!

  17. Great post, I started my photo journey about 1 year ago with the XSi, have learned so much since then.

    Any reason why you’re shooting with prime lenses rather than a zoom? How did you find the 85 prime on a 1.6x camera?

  18. Thank you for this post, I had a good time reading it. And I really appreciate your pictures!

  19. When you say you’re becoming a professional, do you mean you are planning on opening a studio or building one in your home?

    You have definitely morphed from a beginner to a professional very quickly. Reminds me very much of myself.

    One thing I do have to scold you for… All this time, you’ve been holding the camera wrong. You don’t put your hand on top of the lens barrel. You grip it from the bottom. Check out this article:

    I know the name sounds like it’s for newbies, but it would really help you to learn the right grip for an SLR, which would help you keep the camera more stable and give you sharper shots. It also makes your hands and wrists less tired when you’re shooting for a while.

  20. This is awesome, and inspiring! Thank you for writing this post, and letting us share in your journey. I know I am still on that journey myself. =)

  21. Great, great article Lisa! Very cool, and informative.

  22. Interesting journey :) You’ve really made a big progress. Good luck with your career!

    I am kind of at the junction between available light and strobes too, but at the moment the price and effort behind using strobes is a bit scary. Not sure if I want to (ok, could) become a professional anyway.

    Ps: Isn’t it frustrating the models when the photographer is better looking than they are?

  23. […] This post was Twitted by BirchBlaze […]

  24. Having graduated from college probably before you were born with a degree in still photography, I then only played around with it until this year when I lost my job in January. Now, at a youthful 50 years of age (no one believes I’m that old) I’m starting to go for photography full-time and your photos are always ones I go to for inspiration. Thanks for the awesome photos and for sharing them and your knowledge and experiences. You’re awesome!

  25. You’re awesome. These pics are mostlyamazing!

  26. Nice journey, thanks for sharing :)

  27. Great post Lisa, great photos too. I can relate exactly with what you are saying about your earlier work, I think most photographers would agree that photography is a journey in fact someone said that to me the other day when we were talking about the exact same issue! Thanks for sharing this with us :-) Regards,

  28. Nice! Good to see a step by step revelation of the visual art. I just dropped into HDR photography myself, and have been having fun using it with portraits. I did a shoot with a band and tone mapped all of the shots to give them that surreal, we’re the next best thing, kind of look. You can check ’em out on my blog if you want ( ).
    I love the use of sun flare in your shots, something I need to use a little bit more.

  29. A good read Lisa, thanks. You know, throughout all the shots though, you have The Knack, The Eye, whatever you wanna call it, and your shots reflect it. The rest is technique and refinement, but at core, a good shot is artistry :)

    Good luck with your journey, look forward to seeing your future art!

  30. that leaf with raindrops photo is CRAZY good. i’d LOVE to use that as my wallpaper on my MacBook Pro. any chance you could send me a 1920×1200 JPG? please. :)

  31. Fantastic article but boy do I wish it was a narrated slideshow (hint hint). I’ve been following this “pretty girl with a camera” RSS feed since you started showing stuff on Flickr and to watch you grow is amazing.

    I don’t aspire to be a professional, but I do want to be able to take amazing pictures and to see your progress is truly inspirational. You really are a photographer now.

  32. Stephen Christian August 14th, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Been following since you’re appearance on TWIT. I want to take better pictures and know taking more photo is key and learning to use my camera. However, I still don’t think I have the eye / know when a photo is good or bad (outside the obvisios – blurry, to light, to dark).

    I’m a computer programmer so I can understand exactly what you mean, I look at old code and sometimes wonder what I was thinking. This is crap code I need to rewrite this but you don’t know that until you have the experience.

    What I would love to hear from you is an explanation on what you feel is “wrong” with some of your old photos. Not to be cruel but help us see what you now see. What you would do different, so newbies like me can learn to imagine what we could get from a photo and then produce (or get the best results) that photo with our camera.

    Keep up the great work.

  33. Aw, but I miss the Pez. :)

    I really have enjoyed following your progress, I only really got into Photography about a year ago. I would like to move up in the world but I know that I have to get WAAAAAY better before I can. You laying out what you have done sort of helps me grasp what I need to do to better myself.

    Thank you for being so open about your journey and good luck on the new journey.

  34. Great post Lisa! Thanks for sharing your story. You have come a long way and I’m excited to see what is in store for you. Good luck!

  35. The best photography quote I’ve ever heard is, “The camera looks both ways.” That’s what makes those old photos so valuable. I really enjoyed reading this because I started my photography journey about the same time you did with my 20D. I haven’t had the same success, but I enjoy where I’m at. Having two kids in the mean time doesn’t help cultivate the hobby much, either :-) It’s neat to see how things have “developed” for you…I suppose only the film guys will think that’s a pun.

    Best wishes,

  36. Very cool post. How do you approach (beg) people to ask them to pose?

  37. Lisa, I would wish you luck but my guess is you don’t need it. Your hard work and natural style will take you wherever you wish.

  38. Found you via TWIP and have been following with interest ever since. Great post. Very inspiring for those of us who are just starting up the learning curve ourselves. Best of luck to you on the next part of your journey!

  39. Great stuff… I also go back and look at my portfolio of images and think of what was I thinking when I took that pictures. Very inspiring and I wish you the best.

  40. […] in Ruhe lesen, auch wenn er nicht unbedingt kurz ist. Und zwar geht’s um den Artikel “My Photographic Journey” auf […]

  41. Desmond Williams August 14th, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I too plan on walking a similar path so your story was very inspirational.

  42. @kadajawi: Haha! Been asking myself the exact same thing! :)

    @lisa: What a very inspiring post. I started getting more serious with photography just a year ago, but can already see some similarities with your story. I for myself have the huge advantage of having an incredibly talented and ambitious photographer as my father from whom I draw a lot if inspiration and advice as well as other photographey bloggers (such as you) and the other usual ressources.
    I’ve got one question though: Have you ever tought of or even actually entered photography contests? In my opinion this is also a wonderful way of increasing one’s skills since you are confronted with certain criteria you have to think of and fulfill during your creative process. Those limitations have proven themselves to be very helpful for me, as they ensure that I can concentrate more thouroughly on the really important parts such as the message or emotion you want to get through to the viewer. What do you think?

  43. Great article Lisa. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been shooting with the Canon Rebel XS for almost a year now and I’m thinking of upgrading already. Your pictures are really inspiring. :)

  44. I can’t believe I was able to have the privilage to read that. Thank you for being so candid and sharing so many names, equipment, photos, sites,etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  45. What a great story of rapid progression from passion to profession.

    You are cute, but its your humor and honesty that hooks us.
    You have made my hobby shooting for informed, and my tolerance of previously unknown Canada is growing.

    I hope all your dreams and desires in this medium and the others you seek will come true.


  46. What a great story of rapid progression from passion to profession.

    You are cute, but its your humor and honesty that hooks us.
    You have made my hobby shooting more informed, and my tolerance of previously unknown Canada is growing.

    I hope all your dreams and desires in this medium and the others you seek will come true.


  47. What a great story! I really like how your photos tell the story as well as your words. Best wishes for the new career. I look forward to following the progress of your new business!

  48. You’re kinda my hero.

  49. Awesome Post! I enjoy your point of view on TWIP alot; I feel a great deal of empathy with your journey.. i’m going though a very similar one myself. I like your blog alot; keep up the good work

  50. @Robb Shirey: It was a cost issue, but the 430EXs work great and they’re smaller and lighter which can be great if you want to travel light.

  51. @Mark: w00t! I know you’re photography would take a giant leap with the 5DMkII. The detail you get with the 5D is totally worth it.

  52. […] outlayed bland shooting, learning, as well as exploring a universe … See some-more here: Mostly Lisa : Photography, Videos, & Geeky Stuff. » Entry » My … Share and […]

  53. @Tawcan: Prime lenses have better glass and are sharper. The 85mm is pretty long on a cropped camera. You can see in the Stephanie behind-the-scenes shots, how far I am from the subject. But it is a beautiful lens. Great for portraits if you have enough room.

  54. Very, very good job, thank’s for your pictures. You’ve made a great progression.

  55. “A Canon Canada Rep was nice enough to send a XSi (450D) loaner to me, so I had an extra body on these shoots.”

    Lisa, how did you managed to get Canon Canada to send you a XSi as a loaner to you?

  56. Very inspiring. The fact that you’ve only been doing this for less than 3 years is incredible to me. Most people don’t get that good at photography in their lifetime, nevermind in 3 years. I bought my first D-SLR in February, hopefully I can acquire half the skill you have.

  57. Great post! My journey has been similar, started about the same time, and I’ve been following your blog along the way, growing along with you. You have made tremendous progress. Thanks for sharing.

  58. Do you have tips or resources for shooting manual with a dslr? I know of the sunny 16 rule but the resources I have found only cover iso 100. I realize that much of learning to shoot manual is trial and error but a guide to get started would be nice.

  59. Awesome article…and keep up the good work…will continue to follow & and see how you progress

  60. Lisa, you’ve been an inspiration ever since you first started to appear on TWiP. Reading this post has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    I’ve been shooting for almost a year, 90% on my 50mm 1.8. Just started to play with strobes… hardest part is finding people to shoot. I suppose it helps if you’re not naturally a shy person!

    Thank you for this post, and keep up your amazing work!

  61.! This amazing .i like it.!

  62. I’ve only been following you on Flickr and Twitter for a short while, but you’ve been building an amazing portfolio. I love your style!

    Thanks for sharing your history! I can actually afford more lenses, but I too have been just using a 50mm (only f/1.8 though) for the past 8 months or so. It’s taught me a lot, and I’d encourage others to do the same.

    Good luck going pro, not that you’ll need it! :-)

  63. Mamacita! que buena te vez en esta foto…
    Xti, 50mm f/1.4 lens, 1/100, f/4, ISO 100.

    keep shooting.. you re the best…

  64. @love this post: The last time I was hanging at the TWiT Cottage I did a brief, “What’s in my bag?”, but I’ve never done a post, so I’ll add that to my to-do list!

    @Ben Drucker: ha! Got me. I always grip it from the bottom unless I am using my left hand to block light to grab focus. I shoot a lot of back lit shots so I tend to use this method a lot. I’m not sure if there is another way to do this, other than get an assistant to shadow the light for me. If you know of a way I’d love to hear it!

  65. Wow, within this short time you really found your own style. I’m a bit jealous, I have to confess. But in a positive way. I now have this “I can do it, too”-feeling. Thanks for that!

  66. @kadajawi: As you can see from most my set-up shots, you can get great shots using one strobe, a set of triggers, and a shoot through umbrella. You don’t need much. I suggest looking on Craigslist for used flashes. You’ll probably be able to find one way cheaper than in the store.

  67. I envy you. Good luck!

  68. @MeM: good idea about the narrated slide show! i’ll try to do that soon.

    @Stephen Christian: I think my number one complaint with my old photos is composition. And that is something you can definitely learn. My other complaint is that I didn’t know how to process my shots back then. Good processing can take a photo from dull to amazing. I think most of the magic in a photo comes in post. And if you are good with ze code, then surely you can figure out how to use PS! Good luck.

  69. @Lisa: Thanks :) I’m not in the US, but we have good forums for second hand camera gear, I will check that. Still a student though, but as soon as I earn some money :P

    I agree, you can learn composition to a certain degree (there are people who just don’t get it, you need some talent for it too!). I think mostly you need to practise, as you said. I have taken about 22000 photos with my point and shoot and in the year that I owned my DSLR I’ve taken about 21000 photos or so. I’d like to say that I’ve improved with each photo, same goes to PS (although I am now almost exclusively using Lightroom).

    Now I’m curious: How many photos have you taken Lisa?

  70. […] Spannend, wie Lisa ihre Geschichte mit der Kamera erzählt, die ein Jahr lang mit dem 50mm 1.4 unterwegs war und sich Stück […]

  71. Thank you, Lisa, for inspiring me to learn and grow.

    I am 6 months into my first DSLR and really appreciate your candor and wisdom. I wish you continued success and happiness.

    My very best to you,
    Cathy LaFever, Los Angeles, CA

  72. Hey! I just wanted to say I think you’re amazingly talented, and that I enjoy reading your blog. It’s really made me want to invest in a camera and start dabbling in the world of still photography!

  73. Hi Lisa,
    I’m on a similar Photographic Journey, though I was a Brooks Trained Photographer for the Navy. Most of my experience was from the front seats of A-6’s, F14’s and Helicopters and in the portrait studio but I got burned out on all that. Now I’m rediscovering my love of Photography with the recent purchase of the Canon 5D MarkII. I just need to start posting my pics on Flickr… do I make them smaller than 21mp?

  74. It’s a while i’ve been following you

    I really enjoy reading your adventures :)

    Best of luck,

    Davide, Pescara, Italy

  75. @Joe C: A Canon rep found me through my blog and the newspaper I write for. I do a gadget column once a month, so I get loaners of all the new Canon cameras. I know. *huge perk of my job*

  76. @Todd: I upload my shots on Flickr as max 1024 Width. Any bigger and they take ages to load, especially for people with slow internet connections.

  77. Lisa, thank you for this post. As someone who only recently started taking pictures with a DSLR (Canon XSi), and who is also slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information that needs to be assimilated before you can take decent shots, this post really helps. It reassures me that everyone starts at the bottom, and you evolve into a good photographer. I’ve been following your posts for the better part of this year, and really appreciate you spending the time to help some of us who are not so experienced! I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts as I evolve into (hopefully) a decent photographer!

  78. Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing your journey. It is inspiring.

  79. Lisa. Such an awesome story to read… you have made some great shots and I look forward to following your work in the future.

    I currently have a bridge camera (or super zoom) Sony H50…would really love a DSLR (5dMk2 Please ..dream camera).. but as fund wont allow yet… I am looking to push myself to see what I can do with current equipment.. and to hopefully forge a name for myself as a future photographer. Its always interesting to read others journeys and to see how they have developed. Best of luck for the future.

    Oh would love to see what you could do with the video mode on the 5Dmk2.



  80. I stumbled upon your site through another site called 100 best photography web sites.
    I almost clicked out of your site when I though, oh man…this is going to be about another woman talking about her kids, and her little Canon Rebel.
    But I was pleasantly surprised to see such good shots and your presentation was pretty good too. It helps to have beautiful models to photograph I’ll tell ya that.

    I can say after 10 years of photography, I’ve never had anyone loan me a camera body or lens.
    You’re quite attractive and I would love hanging out with you going on photo shoots too.
    I’ve tried to get other photographers earlier in the beginning to help me or let me shoot with them or tag a long or answer my questions but no one would go for it, guess I wasn’t “pretty enough”. HAHA

    I use to be a cosmetologist and I did at one time like to shoot models from Mayhem, but I found that many women became dictatorial about the photos and not showing up for shoots.
    One of the funny things is that I did my first photo shoot with a model with a point and shoot. The next camera I had was a Minolta 7i and then a Canon 20D, now I have a Canon 50D…just don’t have the $$$$ for a 5D MII and prime les’ so I also have had to rent.

    Thanks for your story, feel free to drop me a line too.

  81. @Tim: PS. I used a 50mm kit lens and 70-300mm Canon lens and got some pretty nice shots. But would love to have a few prime lens’ too.
    Twitter me back @tcphotodesign_ or @tcphotodesign

  82. […] #Eine sehr interresante Geschicht erzählt Lisa von Titel: My Photographic Journey […]

  83. Good luck with all your photographic journey you are starting! And thank you for sharing your experience and discoveries of what you have gone through, what it took to be where you are now. Very inspirational!
    Thank you!

  84. I feel silly repeating what others have said but i feel so strongly about your post that I must let you know about it. I, too, find your journey very inspiring. Your skills have grown by leaps and bounds. Your motivation and hard work are challenging to me. But most impressive of all is the self-awareness that pours from every paragraph you write. You have a tremendous gift. You know yourself, you’re honest with yourself, and you maintain a healthy perspective. That’s stuff that’ll be benefiting you and everyone you come in contact with long after your circumstances, looks, and any other transient things have long since changed. It’s an honor to even know OF you! Much success and happiness as you turn this exciting new corner in life.

  85. I just bought a T1i to get into amateur photography, this was a very motivating post to just get out there and take photos. Thanks.

  86. great storyline, I’ve followed a similar path. I learned on p&s & SLR cameras, & decided to jump head in on the DSLR front. Thankfully my job (at the time) fueled my ability to get a 5D MkII & a few lenses. I’m more of a landscape/travel photographer; for some reason don’t care too much to shoot people(know idea why). I’ve been following quite a few people on flickr, & have learned much from them….2 of them fueled my passion to get a a 16-35mm lens. (my favorite lens)

  87. Ok, I know you get this a lot but your pictures just plain ROCK! Every time I check back here I’m both inspired and depressed. Inspired…because you make it look so good and depressed…because I need to make more time to get out there and shoot.

    Keep up the amazing work.

  88. Oh, I almost forgot…I saw you in a promo video the other day for a Tap Tap Tap iPhone app (say that fast 5 times). I was like, hey! It’s Mostly Lisa! I know her! You Internet celebrity you! ;-)

  89. Great Post, just a few weeks ago I went through you entire photostream! It was very inspirational since I’m new at photography. The Kangaroo shot is amazing. I also like your portrait work a lot. I just need to find people to practice on. My wife is running out of patience ;)

  90. @kadajawi: how many pictures have i taken? wow. a lot. that is for sure. I’m already up to 4,000 on my 5DMkII, 6,000 with my iPhone, 12,000 with my old Xti, and thousands of others on the loaner cameras I take. Not nearly as many as you though! :D

  91. @Jay: haha! it’s always hard to coax loved ones into posing for the camera. i like to carry sugary snacks in my camera back to lure them into my frame :P

  92. You make me cry! You have gone on and are embarking on a journey I wish to achieve one day. <3

  93. Haha, yeah, I’ve been travelling a lot for a while (Finland, China and Southeast Asia) and tried some street photography, shooting from the hip etc..

    If you want to take photos of friends and family members what I do is to sit there prepared with the camera and to take photos once in a while, while in a conversation for example. At first they are annoyed or pose for me (with one of those lovely fake smiles ;) ), but after a while they will me much more natural and don’t care about me taking photos, then I can really start, looking for interesting moments/faces. Of course that are different photos than those that Lisa makes, but I have made some photos that I’m proud of this way. Oh, and of course I’m using a 50mm f1.8 for this, and you can still try to find the best possible light/viewing angle (without flash).

    Wow, 6000 with an iPhone is quite a lot too.

  94. You have beauty in your eye, mind, walk, style, and photography, in my opinion – so it is not surprising to find it in your blog.
    I am not financially able to commission you to come to Hawaii and do a shoot, or I would consider it.
    If you are ever in Honolulu I will pose for you and your camera to your heart’s content. Photography has been a hobby all my life, but my profession was as a trial lawyer and appeals specialist based in New Mexico before I retired to Hawaii about six years ago. I think I might still be photogenic and Hawaii is Paradise..
    You are cordially invited – ANYTIME.
    Much Aloha

  95. P S I just noticed I really need a ‘gravatar’
    I hope you can help.
    I will give you my ‘get out of jail free’ card.
    If you haven’t at least visited in Hawaii – you could say that you have never really lived…

  96. […] bin auf Lisa über ihren Blog gestoßen. In ihrem Beitrag My Photographic Journey erzählt sie, wie sie zur Fotografie gekommen ist. Echt hammer Fotos und den Beitrag sollte man […]

  97. Fantastic write-up, thanks. I find myself in a very similar position where I’m realizing I need to take ‘the next step’ and experiment, fail, learn, etc.

    I guess the only main difference is that I use a Nikon, but hey, whatever :)

    Thanks again, I really love your style and your talent


  98. You’ve improved so much! Thank you for sharing the journey with us. <3

  99. WOW!

    You are awesome! Thanks for sharing your story, i was looking for somebody using off-camera flashes mounted on tripods for a long time. Now i know it’s possible.

    Beautiful work!!! Congrats!

  100. Inspiring!!! Thanks for sharing.

  101. Liked your post. Some insight there that I hope will help me with my photography.

    Had a question though about the Alien Bees Cybersync Remote System. How do you connect the receivers to your 430EX/580EX?

    I’m using a single 430EX at the moment (looking for some cash to buy a 580EX) with a Cactus radio trigger, which isn’t hugely reliable. The 430EX doesn’t have a PC terminal though. Are you using a hotshoe adaptor?

    I’m hoping the Cybersync system might be a cheaper alternative for me than going to PocketWizards.

  102. Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read…

    – Bill Bartmann

  103. I am an amateur photographer “still” looking around for a “starting point” to kind of get outta my shell. Amazing portrait shots led me to your Flickr stream which in turn led me to your blog and I am so happy to be reading your photography journey at 2 AM on a Monday morning.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my week.


  104. Good Luck from Spain…. Im in the same way ;-)

  105. So here I am laying in bed 12:44 am doing one last search on my iPhone. I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to get my site going. Not building it…deciding if I want to keep my studio work on a separate site than my personal work. Well I’m still undecided, but you have inspired me to figure it out already and shoot not ponder.

  106. This is one of the better articles on photography that I have read thus far. Thanks for sharing this.

    I am struggling with a few things photographically but studying my rear off trying to learn it and hopefully grow in the process.


  107. Awesome article, thanks for sharing.
    I do like you blog about photography and it’s always an inspiration seeing your latest pictures.
    You’ve really come a long way fast it seems. Keep up the good work.

    Wish you the best.


  108. i’ve always been reading bout male photographers who started small and made it big. rarely ever female photographers.

    thank you for this article. it’s really inspired me and made me realize that if i want to be somebody in this field, then i have to put in thrice the effort and really get myself out there. cant keep giving myself excuses to procrastinate and be afraid.

    thank you for the inspiration and the motivation. :)

  109. “My first HDR :P”

    The magical, staircase shot is outstanding.


  110. […] and she’s pretty inspiring for those that want to get into photography. Her photographic journey in particular shows her start with photograpy and can be an inspiration for people that want to […]

  111. Hello Lisa,

    Great post, very inspiring. I am in the same kind of journey, I just hope I can be like you some day.

    Good luck.

  112. Wow. I am so inspired to take my photography up a notch! I am currently at the stage where I take everything with my 50mm f1.8 lens on my 400D. I absolutely love it and it truly does teach you the basics. I hope there’s a place around here that can also rent lenses since I too can’t afford another lens at this point. I will be subscribing to your site and will be looking forward to reading more and seeing more of your work! Great journey!

  113. I’m so very inspired by you Lisa. Your comments and insights really helped me feel like I’m not only not alone in being overwhelmed by some of the things I have yet to learn, but that it is in fact possible!

    Keep up the great work, I love reading the blog.


  114. It becomes more inspiring the more I read it. Most times you don’t hear the journey people have to become the great photographers, artists, etc., so it’s really cool to see your story. Thanks again for sharing.

  115. Lisa,
    You have very unique perspective in your photos. How did you the close shot of the Koala? I tried the 50mm focal length on my zoom lens of a koala at the zoo too and it turned out horrible. hahahha.


    P.S. love the Rainbow lorikeet pic.

  116. Just finally got around to reading this post I have had it bookmarked for a while. What a great story of hard work and discipline. It further encourages me to pursue my interests in photography. Thanks for the open and honest sharing of your journey.

  117. Lisa,
    LOVED the post — man — I’m so proud of all that you have accomplished. I desperately need some professional portraits or headshots done and if I thought I could afford you, I’d fly you into Atlanta myself.

    Such great work. Take care and keep kicking ass!

  118. Great read for the new year. Thanks for documenting your trajectory – great inspiration and food for thought. Could you share a bit of background about your Alien Bees? I’ve seen Pocket Wizards used aplenty – were they a consideration for you? I’m curious what remotes people use for my own education. Cheers.

  119. Great inspirational story. I really want to shoot and become better at photography.

  120. Nice post Lisa. I’ve taken many of my flickr photos from years ago out of flickr sets and made some private. Yes it’s nice to look back and see where one has been.

    It’s also nice to talk about the journey of being a photographer and pushing oneself to learn the craft more. I see a lot of strobist people get excited to be “flashing” yet the images look like crap… Then I’ll see their work later and it’s slowly getting better.

    We’re all posers and it’s a process. Nice “year in review” post.


  121. Lisa, your work has matured and developed in such beautiful ways in the past year, I’m extremely impressed by your progress. You are an inspiration, good luck and well done.

    If your photographic journey ever brings you over to Victoria, I would love to arrange a photowalk/photo project. Perhaps you have the reach to actually nudge along some kind of photo community here in Victoria, as it hardly seems to exist.

  122. Thanks for sharing. So inspiring!

  123. The story of your journey is very inspiring. I’ve been shooting a lot with my point and shoot and I’ve decided its time to move to a better camera, once I find a way to pay for it. I’ve added you to my RSS feed and I will be reading all your post.

  124. great story. makes me want to share my story, i love my story :)

    also i heard the 50mm 1.4 had not as good glass as the cheaper 1.8 $99 50mm which i love to death :) but your pics are great with the 1.4 making think who started that rumor haha :)

    thanks again! your blog is getting me to really want to update mine more often too :)

    it is a blog like this that helps us grow, one mans junk is another mans treasure kinda thing too.. we might say i am not so proud of using this turkey pan anymore. but telling others can inspire and help others grow and then learn to teach us photographers who have been around the block that , hey dont be so picky .. be creative..try shooting against light.. try what they tell you not too.. you might learn something .. even it why it is true :)


  125. I’d just like to say that your work is beyond stunning. Absolutely magical! Great work!

  126. Lisa just came across your blog …. very cool indeed.
    Thanks so for sharing , and signed up almost immediately to
    Look forward to more
    Take care
    From down under

  127. Lisa – just discovered your blog, and love love love this post — it was really inspiring, especially as I have recently launched my photography business. I will definitely be frequenting and gaining inspiration from you, your photographs and your blog more often! Thanks so much for sharing!


  128. Hey Lisa!

    I recently stumbled upon your blog (like literally haha I have a Stumble Upon account) and I’m so glad I did! I enjoyed reading up on how you became the photographer you are today. Your work is outstanding. I am in high school and enrolled in a photojournalism class that my school offers. I really enjoy it and have fallen in love with photography but it’s only a one year course, there’s no follow up and if I want to continue I would have to switch to yearbook. That’s not really my interest, I like the artistic side of photography but I’ve decided to continue with yearbook next year because I want to continue learning all I can.

    My dream job is being a photographer (well one of them, I haven’t really decided what to do with my life yet) and hearing your unique journey has given me the inspiration to peruse it further. My father said that I could shop around for a digital SLR so I could take pictures at home and I am very excited about that. I can’t wait to get started! :)

  129. Hi Lisa, your post was truly inspiring and I am definitely fired up after reading it. Your journey sounds VERY similar to mine and I’ve pretty much been learning using the same resources that you’ve gone to and it’s really exciting to see have you’ve progressed. I totally know what you mean about your flickr photostream :) your portraits are breathtaking. thank you for sharing your journey with everyone and for inspiring everyone out there who is self-taught and determined to pursue their passion in photography!

  130. […] Mostly Lisa’s – My Photographic Journey […]

  131. I love your story, it say with with hard work you can achieve your dreams.

  132. Thanks again Lisa for an awesome post. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit ‘stuck’ in my path towards making photography a career. What kind of networking/marketing/stuff did you work on while making the transition between talented amateur and professional? Any suggestions?


  133. Nice post Lisa, I’m at the beginning stages of amateurland myself, and I find your story, and your work inspirational. I hope your career has flourished since this post nearly a year ago. You have some truly amazing images.

  134. you’re amazingly inspiring. Congrats on your journey.. <3

  135. Just got my Rebel XSi and 50mm/1.4 and love it! Your and Alex Lindsay’s advice are what made me finally pull the trigger and get this specific setup. I’m trying hard to resist the temptation to buy another lens, forcing myself to use what I’ve got for at least a year or so, and I’m finding your experiences to be really helpful and inspiring. Keep up the great work.

  136. […] addition to her excellent blog posts on aspects of photography, Lisa manages to entertain with her often quirky accounts of life in general, and also through her […]

  137. your photography is too good.

  138. Lisa, I just heard of you today for the first time while reading a photo forum thread about photography apps for mobile devices. I’m really impressed by your work as well as its presentation on your website!

    Feel free to contact me about being a Featured Artist in my ezine (free promo for your site, app, etc.).

  139. This is so good! You really inspire me to become a photographer! I have a question, do you edit your photos on photoshop, etc? or do you just leave it the way you take them? Would love to hear from you soon.

    Kind regards,


  140. I know this post is a couple years old now, but I’ve just seen it for the first time, and it’s very timely for me.

    “After a while, I got bored of just taking pictures of things that I was just observing and wanted to create shots I could control.”

    That’s exactly where I am, though I get the feeling I’m not quite as far into mastering the camera itself as you were at that point. I’ve been a avid amateur for a while now, and I got my first DSLR two years ago (a Canon XSi, which I sold to buy a Nikon D90 which I love, sorry :) and I’ve been doing strictly found photography and event stuff since then.

    Recently I made a new friend at school (art school, finally chasing that dream after a decade in suit pants) who happens to be a natural model. We took some pictures for a school project, and I was instantly hooked. I’ve never worked with someone who actually enjoys dressing up and posing, and is almost infinitely patient with me about it (my wife tries, she really does, but it’s just not her thing). I can’t get enough of coming up with shoot ideas, scouting locations, discussing wardrobe etc. This isn’t what I’m pursuing as a career, but it’s definitely killed most of my other hobbies.

    Suddenly I went from shunning the idea of learning to shoot manual and use flashes to reading everything I could find about it. I’ve recently become unemployed, but what money I have coming in I’m saving up to buy an inexpensive off camera flash setup.

    I don’t know if it was like this for others, but for me it was like a switch being flipped. One minute I was happy to take pictures of flowers and at festivals and the like in Program mode, then dicking around with them in Photoshop. The next minute I’m clearing out a room to use as a studio, shooting exclusively in Manual mode, and researching the differences between various light sources and modifiers.

    PS: The only lens I have is a 50mm f/1.8, and I love it. I’ll get something else eventually, but for now I’m good with just that.

  141. You’ve only benn doing this since 2006? Wow! Very impressive.

  142. Thank you for sharing your story, It is very motivating, I just started my journey in photography, and I felt very related to the process you used to learn, so to know that you have accomplished your journey as an amateur and that you became a great photographer, fills me up with hope, I doubted so much to spend the only money I have on a camera because I am afraid to fail, that I need all the motivation possible! I’m glad I came across your blog and I thank you again for sharing your story.

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