A Look Back to My Early Days of Photography: Everyone Has a Learning Curve

Can I be vulnerable for a moment?

I saw my friend Nino Batista make a post about seeing amount a great work that is inside a specific group I am a part of on Facebook. He wrote about how seeing a bunch of truly great photography made him not want to post more of his (and he doesn’t need to feel this way at all, Nino is amazing). It reminded me of how I felt when I first got my first gym membership and saw all these strong and fit people whom, in my opinion, look to have been lifting weights since birth. It made me want to go back and talk about how I’ve gotten to where I am.

I’ve been shooting for close to five years. I kind of disregard the first two to three years because I was attending engineer school and had little to no time for photography. Let’s look back at that time, looking over my journey to remember that we are all improving. I’m going to only post images where I was kind of “feeling myself” during those times while keeping it safe for work.

Keep this in mind, from 2010–2013 I only used a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor 50mm 1.4G. In 2014 and 2015 I upgraded and have been shooting with a D800e. I only own 2 lenses now: a Nikkor 105mm DC and a Sigma 50mm Art.

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I was confident in about these images because I learned a few new Lightroom techniques and felt that I could be good enough simply using LR wouldn’t need Photoshop a la Neil Snape.


Decided to step my diversify a bit and start shooting what my passion was, and still is, athletics. The first shot there was a 2 light setup where I used 1AB 1600 and, wait for it, a Home Depot work heavy duty bench light. Which I proceeded to use for another 3 or 4 shoots. This year I also decided to have some balls and try out Photoshop, and used TONS of plugins thinking it would make my work better and different than any other photographer… okay #FAIL.

Somewhere down the line I deiced this wasn’t working and found a mentor, Dallas J. Logan, whom (for some reason) I decided to NOT really listen to any time he gave a detailed answer to any of my questions.


Continuation of shooting… Ah the year of the beauty dish. Somewhere I read on internet probably ModelMayhem.com that a beauty dish is amazing modifier and everyone should use it. So I bought one. I also bought these suggested things called “grids” and started to use them on athletes thought they gave pretty cool look to them.

Oh and bought a DVD from Natalia Taffarel.


Stayed in my comfort zone. Used the beauty dish. Love the beauty dish. Refined current skills more. No real secret sauce here. If you want to get good at something do more of it and keep adjusting until you feel it’s right.


My wife made some comments about all these sexy men I’ve been shooting. Decided it was time to break into shooting more women. If I can shoot men topless, why should I not shoot women the same way? Men like feeling sexy and powerful, so thought I could do the same for the opposite sex.

Somewhere in this I upgraded to a D800e. Full frame baby!

Along the way I got insecure about my post processing and started outsourcing my work to retouchers. There are a ton of failures with starting to outsource work. Sometimes you realize you are simply taking more care than the person you sending the work to, while other times I just simply sucked at communicating (that part is still work in progress).


I left the last one unedited because this image is truly from my last shoot on Monday and has not been edited yet. I bought a Mola Rayo Tricky light and really want to master this. I’ve just now started to working with modeling agencies and attention I’m getting has been quite positive. Looking back I could have done this in 2013.

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Much of business is truly about having self confidence and a clear vision on what you know and want out of life than the actual skill-sets required to take photos themselves.

“You are only as good as your last shoot.”

I think what has helped me improve a lot over this short amount of time is trying to consistently do a different setup each time I shoot, while also trying to refine a current one. Not every lighting modifier is very forgiving, and not every model should be photographed the same way. Look at the goals of where you want be skill-wise and career-wise. Show people your work. Do not spend much time trying to convince people they should use you- TOTAL WASTE OF ENGERY AND OXYGEN.

Find a ways to tell more people about what you do and why you love it. That’s what I have found works the best.

Feel free to follow my journey:

Originally published at resourcemagonline.com.