Welcome to Lensbaby Journeys. We have asked photographers to write about their journey with photography and with Lensbaby, however they want to approach it. Each piece will come directly from an individual photographer in their own words, accompanied by their photographs. Our hope is that these journey stories will resonate with you, inspire you, and push you forward on your own path.
What is your Lensbaby journey, Laura?
Back when I was 16 I wanted to study photography but was suggested to that it wasn't a good route. A year later the "good route (biology, P.E., politics, and psychology) wasn't working out for me - I returned to my original wish and began studying photography, art, and design along with history and psychology.
I had an awesome teacher who believed in me...he said I was good, said I could write and he gave me a chance. He was a photojournalist from the U.S. with a laid back attitude and the desire to teach. He photographed my wedding in 2007, and then last year when his daughter got married he asked me to be the photographer at her wedding. I was beyond honored.
So I got my A-levels and then spent a few years trying to figure out my future...it was a summer spent traveling around the U.S. when I rediscovered my love of photography. I applied to university to do an HND (Higher National Diploma) in photography and eventually got my degree.
I fell in love with sports and editorial photography, spent days lost in the dark room, a season spent photographing the British super bikes, a stint working with the fire service and their arson investigators, and a BA Honors in photography...but still had no clue what I wanted to do.
I moved back home, got a job working as a photography technician in a local secondary school, continued to shoot in my free time and print and develop my own work when I could. Then I met my husband, active duty in the United States Air Force, and within a year I was married and living in Germany.
Jump forward to 2009 with my husband deployed...I needed to do something for me. I had recently purchased my first digital camera (Nikon because well I'm a Nikon girl) and decided to start taking my photography a little more seriously. I started shooting portraits for friends and work colleagues, and set up my first Etsy shop selling my work online.
It was in this time I really discovered a love for "fine art, photographing our travels, and I wanted to shoot more and more. I took a workshop in Paris in Boudoir photography to learn new skills, and then when I fell pregnant in 2010 I set up a studio in the basement. By this time I had a good sized portrait business and was selling my fine art at small, local craft fairs on base.
The birth of my son in 2011 gave me the chance to stop bartending and stay home with him, while working as a photographer. When we travelled as a family, I upgraded to a full frame camera and continued to shoot - to find myself in my work. Whilst my work was improving and I was finding my style I always felt like something was missing.
A friend had mentioned Lensbaby to me but I never really thought much of it, until my husband was gone on a last minute TDY (Temporary Duty Assignment) and I was stuck home with a 13-month-old driving me nuts. We had a trip planned to Paris the following month and (because I don't like to half-ass things) I bought the Composer Pro Effects Kit and never looked back.
It's taken a lot of practice for sure - I look back on some of my first Lensbaby work and cringe. Honestly I recommend reading instructions or watching tutorials - trial and error is not the best way to learn. But I got lucky on occasion and I fell in love. That same year I was lucky enough to photography the Paralympic Games in London for the U.S. Olympic Committee. After that we moved back to England where I spent the past 4 years pushing my fine art career with a few portrait sessions thrown in.
Moving countries gave me new opportunities to shoot new work, to experiment more, to find myself in my work once again and to become a photographer. I have two shops on Etsy (one filled solely with Lensbaby images), and I work with various agencies including a few book covers over the years. I've been lucky enough to do some work for the wonderful Lensbaby folks, and now living in the U.S. (although midwest winters will take some getting used to) I'm excited for more opportunities and a chance to see where my Lensbaby work will take me next.
Laura will be joining us at Out of Chicago this month! Register now to secure your spot - classes, photowalks, panel discussions, workshops, photography shootouts and the one-of-a-kind Out of Chicago photo crawl.
Do you have a Lensbaby journey story? Share it with us for your very own feature! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.