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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Journey Story: Natalie Wheeler


  • 3 min read

Welcome to Lensbaby Journeys. We asked photographers to write about their journey with photography and with Lensbaby, in any way they want to approach it. Each piece comes 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, Natalie?

I got my first DSLR camera in 2010. I just wanted a camera that would take better pictures of my children, who were toddlers then. At the time, I had no idea that photography would become the primary vessel through which I would develop my craft as an artist. When I step back and look at my whole life picture, however, this all began well before I got that Rebel T2i DSLR in 2010.

My photography is very personal and reflects my entire journey in life. As we were growing up, my mother took many pictures of me and my three sisters, documenting our childhoods. The older I got, the more I valued those pictures and appreciated her commitment to taking them. I have always had a deep need to express myself artistically, but it wasn't until I reached my thirties that I committed to that need. I can only speculate as to why it took me as long as it did to fully engage the artist within, but now I can't imagine living my life any other way.

My journey with Lensbaby began in 2014, when I purchased my first Lensbaby lens, the Sweet 35 Optic. I have always been drawn to images with highly selective focus, and the Sweet 35 started rocking my world the moment I attached it to my camera! It got me out of a creative rut, renewed my enthusiasm for photography, and enabled me to create unique and interesting images.

A few months after I started with the Sweet 35, Lensbaby contacted me and asked me if they could use some of my images for advertisements in exchange for another Lensbaby lens. I leaped at the opportunity, and that is how I ended up with the Edge 80 optic. I especially love how this lens performs with portraits! It allows the freedom to take conventional sharp-looking portraits, as well as really unique ones by playing with the selective focus capabilities.

Lensbaby lenses are not the easiest to learn. They require the photographer to use manual focus, and the focusing system takes some practicing to get used to. However, the results are well worth the time and effort. It has been a journey in patience, learning, and growing for me. Shooting with these lenses has pushed my skill as an artist to a higher level. The more decisions I make when I create an image: the focus, the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition, the more "authentically me" the image feels. Lensbaby lenses not only enable you to, "see in a new way," they compel you to be very engaged in creating your images, and that is a truly fulfilling experience as an artist. I am very grateful to have their lenses in my artist toolkit and for their continual support in my artistic journey.

About the Artist:
Natalies primary goal as an artist is to evoke feeling through her words and photographs. Her artistic journey began long ago, but it wasnt until she entered her 30s that photography and writing became the primary outlets for her artistic expression. She likes to share the way she sees the world with those who are interested in her perspective. She is inspired by light, shadows, contrast, shapes, lines, colors, words, nature, adventure, music, and of course, the people, and animals she loves! She has recently been experimenting with self-portraiture and finding additional outlets for her art. While experimenting in different directions and following her passions as they arise, she is laying the groundwork for the future paths of her artistic journey. Her work has been published by Lensbaby, Beyond the Wanderlust, and she is an artist at Offset.com.

To see more of Natalie's work, check out her website and Instagram.

Do you have a Lensbaby journey story? Share it with us for your very own feature! Email us at journey@lensbaby.com.

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