The problem with learning from other photographers

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I do not have a college degree in Art, Photography, or anything else for that matter. I learn better hands on than with books. I have street smarts, albeit a polite street, not necessarily book smarts. I joke with my husband that I graduated from the School of Hard Knox. Even though I legitimately have it on a resume which I have never had to give to anyone. A resume I made in the beginning of 2016 when I went full time with photography. I made it just in case it didn’t work out and I needed to dive back into the workforce as an employee instead of business owner. When I started learning about photography in 2012 I learned from free online sources like CreativeLive or blogs written by successful photographer’s like: Jasmine Star, Amy & Jordan Demos, and Katelyn James. Heck, I am proud to say I am STILL learning from these amazing educators and still recommend them to other photographers, new or veterans.

Here is the problem, well here was my problem. I was “learning” so much from them in the way I used to prepare for a big exam. I listened, took notes, memorized and repeated. I wanted my business, Amber Elaine Photography, to be just as good as those amazing businesses. Not just as good…exactly like them. I tried and tried to do exactly what they did in their photography business. Jasmine Star started with a Canon 20D well so would Amber Elaine! Katelyn James loves her 85mm lens, I bought an 85mm lens! Amy and Jordan worked as elementary teachers AND photographers before going full time, ok, I will continue to work in the dental field while doing photography on the side. I also parodied my photography style to reflect their style which doesn’t work too well when it’s 3 different photographers. I was going about it all wrong and it effected my photography. I had time when I thought everything was great and then sometimes I was dumb founded with the results. “That worked for so and so, why didn’t it work for me?”

I needed to find my own photographic and business voice. I thankfully did find those things…both of them. Here is the other thing, I found them AND am still perfecting them. I am still growing! I don’t EVER want to think I know it all. There are so many new things to learn and I will continue to learn. I am taking e-courses and attending workshops at least twice a year.I can see where Amber Elaine has come from, where it is currently and where it’s going in the future. In the end I have come to terms that you can copy and mimic all you want, but in the end it’ll just be a bad knock off of someone else’s great work.