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Not So Professional Picture

How I'm Learning to Be a Photographer

Photo Credit: Edward Anderson

There are many things I am good at; writing, social media, and things that are best not discussed in this essay. However, there are some things that I lack enough knowledge about to call myself good or even adequate at. Playing games (DnD and apparently shooter video games are among my weakest) and photography. After taking a picture of the New York City skyline from a friend's apartment, many people encouraged me to try professional photography as a side hustle.

There were a few problems with this suggestion. First, the only camera I own is on my iPhone 8. While it takes decent enough family pics, and selfies, I would hardly think it is enough to launch a whole new revenue stream for me. Then I took some pictures after the CNN bomb threat in October, and Vocal graciously ran them, which boosted my self-esteem enough to consider taking pictures for more than just memories. So I signed up for Shutterstock and uploaded more than 200 pictures to the stock photo service. In a blow to whatever burgeoning confidence I was building up, only 40 of the more than 200 pics were approved to be sold on their site.

Some of the complaints were things that I thought I could not help, like the size of the image and some of the lights blurring. But then I was told that I could actually fix that by investing in photo editing software. Which leads to the second problem, I don't know how to use photoshop and the like. It's easy to learn, of that, I am sure, but did I really want to invest in something that was only a side hustle?

As it turned out, I did. Just as with my writing, which I have heavily invested in, taking pics is fun and helps get me in a creative mood. And while not every picture I take needs to go through the process of editing, as one very smart stranger told me. She saw one of the skyline pictures I took, and asked me if she could have a copy of it. I told her it was on Shutterstock, but if she wanted I could send her a file over. She sent me $20, and then showed me that she blew it up and framed it for her apartment. Pride swelled within me. I bought dinner with that money and realized I may not be a "professional" photographer like Annie Leibovitz, but there are still people who will like my work.

Another person saw a picture of the Haunted Mansion I took at Disney, and they wanted to use it for their book cover. I don't know if they will, I am waiting to hear back, but again this was a raw photo with no editing done to it. Maybe the side hustle didn't need any investment in it after all.

Of course, I got Photoshop anyways. I am learning it, and I am learning slowly how to take better pictures and angles. So my not quite professional pictures are starting to become a bit more professional. And who knows maybe the side hustle will finally get me to buy a real camera instead of using my phone. 

And as a side note, the picture above was taken by me as noted in the caption. It was taken at Epcot (I think, it was several weeks ago, and I don't label things as I should), and is one of the pictures that I am proudest of. Even though it is not yet up on Shutterstock because they disapproved it for some reason. Maybe a quick run through Photoshop and a resubmission is in order.