My STEP signature project was a creative endeavors project. It included buying a camera, taking a variety of photography classes, and capturing the special moments of my parents’ thirtieth wedding anniversary.
I have always viewed myself as someone who catches on quickly and easily learns new things, but photography was a real challenge for me. Learning to use my camera was the easy part, but learning to have the eye of a photographer and capture true moments was a very challenging task for me to grasp. It is something I have grown a lot in with my mentor’s help, but will always continue to struggle and grow with. Throughout this project I have learned to rely on others. It sounds simple enough, but for a woman raised as independently as I was, it is no easy feat. I can almost always rely on myself to figure things out, but with photography I desperately needed help and sought advice from my instructors. This experience has taught me a lot about myself and how I interact with and view the world.
The first true relationship formed during my project was with my mentor, Braddley Adams. Braddley is a professional photographer that teaches a series of classes to beginner and more advanced photographers to help others learn to use their cameras. He always says that the camera is just a machine; one is not really better than another, it all depends on how you use them. I never knew how involved photography was until I met Braddley and started taking his classes. Each photo I see has a whole new meaning to me now, as I truly understand what the photographer had to do to capture each shot. Braddley helped me to understand that photography is an art that anyone can learn, but few will learn to master it.
Another significant figure in my project was Matt Cangelosi. He is world renowned photographer that teaches beginner and advanced photography courses on the side. The main lesson I learned from Matt’s lessons was how to change my perspective. As humans, we hurry through life and our eyes block out most of what we see. Our brains cannot possibly process all the information we would grasp if our eyes did not do this. But when we truly stop and look, we see amazing things. You can zoom in closely and see every detail on a flower petal, or look up towards the sky and see what the branches and leaves look like from below. Through Matt, I learned to look at the world differently and take in the scenery around me instead of passing by.
As I prepared myself to take pictures of my parents’ anniversary event, I began to feel anxious about my ability to capture each precious moment at the party. Photography was a much more difficult art to master than I had anticipated. I knew I needed to practice, so I did. Braddley was generous enough to provide exercises to practice between classes and offered a free outing to take pictures alongside him as he guided us in the moments we were capturing and how we did it. Without the extra preparation he provided, I would not have been able to capture the moments I did at my parents’ vow renewal with the fast paced and frequently changing environment.
Overall, I learned to truly dedicate myself to a new hobby in order to fully learn it. I learned that not every new task in life will be easy, but that does not make it impossible. I learned that if I want to succeed, I must put in the time and effort to master it. I learned that I need to rely on others who have more knowledge to be able to grow. In all, I learned what it takes to be a more efficacious person.
This change is significant in every part of my life. I have always been an independent person and never asked others for help. Through this journey of learning photography I now understand that I might not need others, but I can greatly benefit from their knowledge. This is really important as I will soon transition into professional life and will be working with several different people daily. One person alone cannot achieve much, but together everyone is more successful. I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given through STEP to be able to gain a skill I can carry with me throughout my life, and all the valuable lessons I learned during it this process.