Since I can remember, the passion for photography burned inside me. At the age of five, when anyone would ask me “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, that flame inside me would compel me to one answer: “I want to take pictures of White Bengal Tigers.” As of this day, that photograph has been elusive but the passion for photography drives me to eventually capture that moment and the ones in between
In college, I signed up for a film photography class and absolutely loved the process. I loved not knowing exactly how my photo would turn out. Hours were spent in the dark room developing my film. Anxiously, I waited as I gently rocked the container of solution back and forth as it washed over the photo paper. Slowly, I was able to see the work I had done take form and appear like magic. After that class, I lost touch with my photography. That was until I got my first digital EOS camera.
One of the first things I did after getting my camera, after learning how to use it of course, was start an Instagram account. Excitement to share my passion and work with others was equally met by the excitement over meeting other photographers and talk to as many people as possible to learn everything I could. The way the community of photographers on Instagram affected my work was not something I anticipated.
From the perspective of a beginner, one must use caution. It is so easy to compare yourself to others. I would scroll through all the recent posts and see all these amazing photos of places I did not even know existed! Aside from all the stunning landscapes, the photos had amazing colors, lighting, and textures. It blew me away. I found myself comparing my first photographs to the work of someone who has been in the game for years. While comparison is so detrimental to creativity, and Instagram is very good place to get lost in that, allow the work of others to inspire you rather than making you feel less than worthy. In addition to comparing work, there is the number of “likes” and comments a photo gets. It is so important to not let yourself get wrapped up in those numbers. Just because a photo gets more attention than yours, does not mean it’s better! The amount of likes and comments do not equal talent!
While comparison is a negative attribute to social media, there is a positive that can be taken from it. So much time was spent obsessing how to get to that level, it eventually motivated me to learn as much as possible. I watched YouTube videos, googled how-to videos, and experienced tons of trial and error. Ultimately, it took me reaching out to other photographers that really helped. Thankfully, I have met some amazing people who are willing to help and push me to be better. So, in comparing myself it led down a road that caused me to learn about editing, to learn about the exposure triangle, and to be better than I was yesterday, not better than another photographer. It pushed me to connect with other photographers. Connecting with the like-minded is so important. You realize you’re not alone in doing what you love. You’re not alone in struggling to find your style. You’re not alone in the quest to master your art.
Reaching out and building a connection with other people is always something I will cherish. I reached out and still do try to connect with everyone that I can. Even with my small, humble account there is a connection to the majority of the people that follow me. This takes me to my next example of how a negative aspect of Instagram can really be turned into something great. The number of followers used to be all consuming. I messaged so many accounts its embarrassing. Often times the messages would be ignored, other times I really got to know the people and made friendships that I don’t see ending anytime soon. Those friendships were a result of me trying to feel connected and gain followers, but what was gained was much more than followers.
As time went on and I met some really great people, it became clear that what should be desired is quality, not quantity. The followers since then have come and gone and my account is barely over a 1,000, but out of those 1,000 are groups of creative minds that have really motivated me to do better. They have taught me to stay true to myself and to take pictures because I love it, not because others might “like” it.
Instagram is a tool. It should be used as such. I have come a long way from thinking likes equal talent. Just keep learning as much as possible, connecting with people as much as you can, and share what you love with as many people as possible. Instagram has opened up doors to friendships, business opportunities, and travel possibilities. I’ll never stop learning and seeing as much as I can. The biggest lesson I feel I have learned is to stay true to myself and only put out what I love. It sounds silly but by putting myself out there via Instagram, it has guided me on a path to self-realization and overall has actually given me more confidence as a photographer. Don’t get caught up in the numbers. Don’t try to be better than anyone else. Just keep trying to be better than you were yesterday.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Hi! My name is Katie I am a California girl, born and raised! I have always loved animals, nature and the outdoors. My love for all those things lead the love for photography. I have always been intrigued at the ability to freeze time and share that moment with as many as possible. Since starting photography, I have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places. Yellowstone National Park being one the most beautiful places I have traveled to. Being a mom of a 3-year-old and having a full-time job, traveling is not something I get to do as much as I would like. There is so much more I want to explore and capture. My main goal is to have fun, and enjoy this life as much as possible, while seeing as much I can
with my family. I am so excited to be a part of such a creative, caring and passionate group of people and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/ktbellphotography/
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/ktbellportraits/