08 May 2012

sponsor guest post by Sadie Dear: take, use, focus.

Hello, Anna Delores readers! My (pseudonymous) name is Sadie Dear. I have a propensity for prolific writing,  taking pictures of everything I see, and finding beauty in the little things. I am a little crunchy: I adore local produce, free-range chickens, and organic milk. I blog about life as an (only somewhat "neurotypical") wife to one devastatingly handsome man with Asperger's Syndrome, and our adventures in parenting one exceptionally gifted two-year-old Buckaroo. I adore precious objects that have been crafted with love, and I believe life is like a patchwork quilt. When all the pieces are finally joined together (even the unexpected ones--): life's quilt is like a work of art! 

I am so happy that Emily has asked me to share some of my thoughts about becoming a better photographer with you today. There are three main things I have done to improve my craft as a photographer. I could probably give you even more tips, but I like to keep things simple. Are you ready? Here we go:

I didn't get serious about taking photographs until I began to get serious about blogging. Just as with my approach to blogging, the first attempts I made were often haphazard and lacking vision. I had both written and taken photographs before but (as with anything!) a challenge was needed to help me begin approaching either art with creativity. I am so excited to see that Emily is participating in a photo challenge this month: it was a similar meme that helped me begin honing my skills. From that experience, I learned that I was both capable and motivated enough to learn the craft of photography: if only I had more practice. 

By doing something every day, you are exercising your "brain muscles" and improving their function through repetition. Doing this, you are utilizing what psychologists call "brain plasticity" to become better at something. This concept helps you to make habits--both good and bad--and helps you to learn things and incorporate them into your life. For the creative person, repetition helps create habits that will eventually result in the quality product you are hoping to generate.

Though my first attempts at photography often fell short of the vision I had for them, my images have grown better over time. As a matter of fact: my work is still improving and (I believe) will continue to improve. With my brain accustomed to looking (and finding) inspiration in veritably everything, and by exercising my creative muscles everyday, fresh material now comes easily!

In case you happen to wonder what's in my camera bag: I'd like to introduce you to my constant companion. This is Oscar:

Oscar travels with me everywhere I go. He even goes with me to the grocery store (though he doesn't always come out of the trunk of my car). He is always available, in case both inspiration and opportunity arrive!

You don't have to own a fancy and expensive DSLR camera to take quality photos. Don't let perceived limitations keep you from valuing your worth as a budding photographer! Recently, I shared this photo on my blog, and all the visitors that saw it remarked on how lovely Francesca the Frog looked: 

Would you believe that I recorded that image using a Canon Powershot point-and-shoot camera like this one? Your camera has a simple job: capture a moment and record it on an image. It doesn't have to be a top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art machine to take fantastic pictures. As the person wielding the camera, your job is to recognize which moments are worthy of being recorded. A quality image is made of three basic elements: the subject, the way that light hits the subject, and the photographer's perspective of the subject. Sure, there are more qualities in every photographic image than these three elements, but we're keeping it simple, remember? The only way to start taking great photographs is to begin discerning when all three elements are just right, and then have the courage to press the shutter button. It's alright if you don't get what you wanted every time. I routinely delete more digital images than I keep--but I delete fewer photographs every day! Do you see a common theme here? Over time, you will learn to use the tools you have available to the greatest potential. By the way, have you ever heard of iPhoneography?

Sometimes, achieving creative goals requires adjusting your focus. Many times, people strive for things for a long time, not realizing that their focus is in the wrong place. This is a multi-dimensional point that I'm driving home! 

In photography: as I began to develop my skills as a photographer, one of the first things I noticed was how changing the area of focus affected the final capture. I began experimenting with the depth of field and playing with focus to learn which methods consistently produced the results I was looking for in my images. I like a shallow depth of field best: by concentrating on the element of the photograph where I want the focus, and making the rest of the image fade into the background (or foreground, as the case may be!), I am both learning to look at things closer to finding beauty in the unexpected, and making conscious decisions about what is most important. 

In life: things are just better when you learn how to prioritize. Very few people ever achieve their long-term goals without knowing where to set their focus! Zero in on what you want to do: why you want to do it: and how you plan to get there. Practice makes perfect, and don't forget the people along the path that are helping you get there! My personal philosophy is that my faith matters first, and people come in a close runner's-up position. I believe in doing for others what I hope they will do for me. Everything else is pointless! My goal, then, is to encourage others as I walk through this life. No matter what I am doing, I have to remember that goal and all other good things will follow. I hope that you've been encourage and that I've lived up to my goals by sharing this with you today! I try to remain authentic and transparent with my writing, as honesty is the best policy. I have a lot of fun sharing tidbits of my life through my blog, and I hope you'll drop in to visit me one day. 


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for letting me say my piece on your blog today! I hope you're having a fabulous Tuesday.

    1. You too, Sadie -- thank you for sharing such a wonderful post with me and the Anna Delores crowd! :)

  2. Lovely photos. I recently started a photography class and am the only one who doesnt have an DSLR but who cares. I've learnt so much using my point and shoot camera. I'm really happy. Sometime we've just got to work with what we've got. You can still get great results. Great blog. I am now a follower of you both:D

  3. what a nice post! I really enjoyed reading it and thanks so much for your tips =)

  4. This is awesome and super inspiring! I especially love the focus one, it really can change everything! I just got my very first DSLR this weekend and have a lot to learn! I have been wanting one for over a year now though and it is time to really develop some skills, love that I can find inspiration and help from other bloggers such as yourself!
    Hope you are having a lovely day!
    xo Hannah

  5. Great advice and thanks for sharing. I always tell people that the very early photographers took some stunning photos with extremely basic equipment, so don't be put off because they don't own a high-end DSLR.


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