You might think your progression is slow, you might think you suck and will never be as good as your idols. It takes time to learn photography and here I show you my development.
In the above video, I share a lot of my old photography and spoiler alert; it is terrible. I am however not ashamed of it, because it led me to the photographer I am today and I have absolutely loved that journey. It is also important to notice that I did not use social media to reach a broad audience for the first many years. I just uploaded to my private Facebook account because I wanted to show my photos. I had no expectation of ever get to earn money from it. From 2011/2012 photography was just a hobby and I wanted to improve.
Back then, I photographed everything. Flowers, car trails, roads, stars, fishing boats, empty beaches and sunsets. So many sunsets. I relatively fast learned about raw files and with the help of Canon’s raw converter, which is a very simple version of Adobe Lightroom, I figured out how professional photographers managed to change their photos. My mind was blown by the flow of dopamine and it instantly made me addicted to photography. I have not retrieved from it.
Over the next years, I continued to photograph in east and west. Through various YouTube videos, I got the hang of camera settings, depth of field, ISO, what lenses to use for what and so forth. I also came by some fantastic colorful and dramatic photos that were called HDR!
I think we all have had our HDR phase. Besides HDR, I also had a thing for light painting and lens flares.
But, it was by documenting different social events I became happy about photographing humans. I also had many friends who were not afraid of standing in front of a camera, which made it easy to practice headshots and commercial photography. For a long time, I thought that was the direction I wanted to go. Highly influenced by tutorials from photographers like Joel Grimes and Peter Hurley I got my first studio and went to work.
Over the years, I combined many of the different skills I had learned. Portraits and light painting, light painting and building, landscapes and portraits, and loads of editing. I loved the post-processing phase of photography – it was here my vision came into reality.
After a growing interest in landscape photography and heavily influenced by Photographing the World with Elia Locardi, I decided to head to Iceland for three weeks during autumn 2015. On the first day in Iceland, I experienced both a gorgeous sunset at a huge waterfall and a magical night with northern lights on top of a volcano crater. That was when I realized I wanted to do landscape photography for many, many years to come. The photos that came out of my first visit to Iceland varied a lot in quality, but over the next 6-9 months, I managed to curate, edit, and release the best ones.
After a couple more trips to Iceland, where I kept building on top of previous experiences I realized that not all landscape photos needed a shutter speed of two minutes. During 2016 and 2017 I got myself to the Western U.S, the Faroe Islands, Britain, and other locations in Europe, always with the goal in mind of getting the most amazing and epic photos no matter the conditions.
What made me grow the most in this period, besides continued influence from YouTube, tutorials, and my own curiosity for pushing the limits, were my photography friends. Having some friends with the same passion who can review your work is essential for your growth and push your photos from good to great!
Over the years, I had several small jobs as a videographer, portrait photographer, and wedding photographer, but if your passion is not in that work, you surely want to move on. During 2018 and especially 2019, I reached the point where I was able to start earning some real money from my landscape photography and my YouTube channel has surely been the key to it all. With ideas from workshop clients and my co-YouTuber Nigel Danson, I have managed to monetize my work. It took me about four years to find what genre of photography I was most passionate about and another 2-3 years to monetize it. I am not saying it will be the same for you, but I will say that it takes time if you want to live from it.
Running a business and a YouTube channel leaves unsurprisingly little time to develop as a photographer, which on one hand is a shame, however, I am not in a rush and I do not want to burn through it all too fast. The question is also in what way to go from here. I shoot more locally, I learn what photos I actually resonate the most with in the long run, and I explore other genres within nature photography such as woodland and abstract photography. What will stick and what will bore me only time will tell, but I know for sure that my development as a photographer is still ongoing and there is plenty still to learn!
Check out the video above to see even more of my old photos.