Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to the Photography students and staff at Saint Thomas Aquinas. I always feel honored when asked to work or collaborate with STA because the staff is always so gracious and welcoming and the students just as engaging.
The main focus of my visit was to discuss my story. What has been my journey to open Lisa Wotkowicz Photography? To give some direction on my career path traveled, as well as a few photography techniques, tips and what I have learned along the way...and continue to learn! I have been out of high school 25 years this coming May (gulp...how can that be?), but only recently turned my photography bug into my career. For over twelve years retail buying was in my blood and my four year college degree from UMASS Amherst states my major as Apparel Marketing, not Photography. However that's life, it takes twists and turns... sometimes you're the driver and other times just a passenger along for the ride. And that's ok...in fact, I think it's divine intervention at it's best.
During the meeting, I listened to the students speak of their college choices, aspirations and career goals, as well as see their eyes light up with the talk of camera bodies & glass and I was truly heartened. Each of them is about to embark on his/her own path and that is so exciting! I wish them all the best and look forward to sharing my knowledge with them, just as the amazing mentors who have done the same for me.
Below is my handout that was distributed to the students. I'm sharing it on my blog because I hope it helps anyone with the photography bug. Happy reading!
Photography takes a different path for everyone. Don’t be afraid to follow your own...
Photography is an art and everyone sees and feels art differently. An image that may trigger my heart to flutter might be something complete opposite for you. It may be the refined editing adjustments , the simple composition of the subject, a stunning glance caught off guard or something as straightforward as color tone and saturation.
Photograph what you love. Do you prefer to shoot landscapes or are you more inspired to capture human emotion? Does freezing nature in all it’s glory get you excited to download your images or would you much prefer to catch the glimmering lights of the city architecture at dusk? My point is, shoot your passion and shoot it as often as possible!
Photography is a craft and like any craft, it needs to be honed. You will become a better photographer when you continually sharpen your skill set. Take your camera out. Get out of Automatic Mode…in fact, don’t ever use it!
Understand how your camera works. Photography is based on three fundamental components; Aperture (Depth of Field), Shutter Speed (Control of Motion) and ISO (Light) and they all need to work harmoniously to achieve a properly exposed image. Play with the settings, adjust your ISO, shoot a flowing waterfall at different shutter speeds to see the change in the image. Shoot a portrait and see how the subject’s persona or individuality jumps off the photograph when you dial the F-stop wide open. There are no hardened steadfast rules in photography, but there are guidelines, that once you have a strong grasp of, will allow you to take your images to the next level.
Do you like to read? If you are anything like me, I would much prefer to flip thru a book with amazing imagery because that is how right-brained people work! We want to see shapes, patterns, colors, and explore creativity and emotion and not look at monochromatic pages of text. However, we do need to read to fully understand photography concepts and photography books are a wonderful resource for that because they do offer the best of both worlds. There is something very comforting when sitting down with a good book and perusing page by page to gain knowledge and understanding versus a brightly lit computer screen. One book that I would highly recommend, which was recommended to me by my mentor is Bryan Peterson’s, “Understanding Photography Field Guide.” He does an exemplary job of explaining techniques, as well as giving advice on gear and post processing software. Personally, I feel it is an essential resource because it dedicates teaching the reader with a clean layout by providing photography examples and how they were achieved with specific camera settings. The stunning and glossy paper quality is also a big plus to make you not want to put it down!
So in conclusion, I would say the best advice that I can give is to just follow your heart. Follow your passion. Go after a career in photography if that is where your soul wants to be. However, maybe it’s but just a fun hobby for you and that is wonderful too. Understanding photography is incredible knowledge to have regardless. As your life moves along you will be digitally freezing moments, but please do me one favor…Take your camera out to capture a photograph. Don’t just rely on your phone to take a picture. There is a big difference.