While on this journey, I have often sought out professional photographers in order to learn how to improve my skills with a camera. More often than not, that was detrimental to my experience. For several years it seemed as though the “professionals” weren’t very professional. The infamous “constructive” critique seemed like nothing more than a chance to tear down those who only sought to learn. It grew to a point where I just put my camera in the closet for long periods of time.
The thought of putting my camera down and giving up has never appealed to me. There is something I truly love about photography and garner great enjoyment from it. I stood by and watched as images of bus tail lights and plastic clothespins rounded up pages of compliments while it was a struggle to get any notice on my images. I knew, at the time, that my skills were not very good, but I did was seek out others to learn from their experience. It was met one time by a well-known professional telling me that I should just sell my gear and find another hobby. Needless to say, I felt devastated. At that point I closed any accounts I had with photography sites and gave up any hope of going any further, but the desire to learn more would not die so easily.
Over the years that followed, there were many discouraging experiences that kept the doubt and disappointment alive and well. Companies that stiffed on payment or breaking deals, which I could do nothing about because I didn’t know much about contracts. The lack of a business plan or a legal standing lead to a situation where I swore of working for one place I would have loved to work with. The quality I had been so desperately seeking continued to elude me. Still, there was a smoldering fire that kept my desire alive.
I think I have fallen in every trap a struggling photographer could. Advertising free shoots on Craigslist and investing far more than I was making with it. In the end, the result was all it could have been…a failure. My first photography business lasted three years and when I had to close it, the debt was burying us. It was to a point where we could not give a session away. Again, I knew the quality I wanted was simply not there. I wasn’t really interested in the types of shoots I was doing and believe it showed in the finished work. In addition, my Photoshop skills left a lot to be desired. Truth is, I was in over my head.
After that failed experience, it took over a year before I picked up a camera again. It took another year before I ventured back to working with people as subjects, but I was determined. Though I have met several people over the past two years that have helped me with ideas and working on skills, there was one photographer in particular that gave me the one nudge I needed. I was hesitant to even contact him due to being burned so many times, but was surprised when he answered right back with the answer that gave me the direction that was desperately needed.
Now Cross & Clove Photography has become the culmination of all I ever worked for and toiled for. Now, I can offer the quality and the style I sought for so many years. I must also admit, I enjoy the attention my work has been getting. It is a vindication for all of the disappointment and destructive comments that were endured to get to this point. There has been one side effect though, I am hesitant to approach other photographers. This year, however, I reached out and introduced myself to a few I had been following their work, and am hoping to work on collaborative projects with some of them and learning more from others.
That is how Cross & Clove Photography has come to be, albeit the short version. Doors are beginning to open now and all of the trials have become worth the turmoil of before. I have also realized that all of the negativity forced me to be more critical of my work before posting or sharing it. To all those that said I could not do it and should give up, guess what? I’m doing it, and I am doing it my way.