I'm super excited to have Maria Northcott as our first guest poster! Maria is a sweet friend of mine and she's a very talented photographer. She only started two years ago, but her hard work and intuition have really paid off! She is my second shooter for weddings and she has done a lot of her own work too. You can follow Maria here on her Flickr page!

So, without further ado, please welcome Maria!

Maria

I was a teacher for a little while, but up until about two years ago I never really had a title. I don’t mean that I never had a job with a title like office manager or education coordinator or bookseller or something, I had those. I mean I didn’t have a trade with which to identify. I had no idea what my passion was. That sounds sad, and it was, but I’m serious. I knew there was something out there for me, something that I would be totally passionate about and want to do all the time, I had just never had that. Not until I met Erin.

Mariafirst

I had admired her work on her blog. We became friends and I even assisted her at a few weddings: carrying her bags, passing her wrong lens after wrong lens (I knew nothing about photography), sneaking behind the caterer’s tent for a quick hors d’oeuvre. But I honestly had no intention of ever actually taking any photos. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, I just didn’t think that I could do what she did. She’s an artist and sees the world in a way that I never imagined I could. Her photos are so creatively framed and edited, there was no way I could ever do that. I wasn’t an artist and didn’t have what I call “the eye” for making beautiful things. So, when Erin suggested we go out for a shoot with me as the shooter, I blanched (great word, right?!), and then freaked out, and then agreed. “Okay, but I don’t think you can teach someone how to have ‘the eye.’”

Hula hooping

Well, I was right in one way, you probably can’t teach someone how to be creative, but you can draw out someone’s innate creativity and that’s just what she did. My first lesson:

  • Framing

  • ISO

  • Laughter

  • Catching the moment

  • Shutter speed

  • Height awareness

  • Depth of field

  • f-stops

  • Laughter

  • White space

  • Engaging the subject

  • White balance

  • Shooting into the light

  • Laughter

Door window

I am not kidding! I don’t think there was a photography-related element that we didn’t at least touch upon. We took a couple of hours and just walked around our little town being the dorks that we are. And it was so fun. I mean, it was life changing, holy-crap-I-just-found-my-passion fun! It was I-now-know-what-I-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life FUN!

Princess

Okay, that day was fun. I’ve had a lot of challenging days since then. Actually, the first challenge I had was a family shoot with Erin. The couple had three (super rambunctious) kids. Erin invited me along to start to get the feel of a real, live shoot. It’s one thing to shoot your friend who’s standing still and totally another thing to try to shoot crazy three and five year olds! Shooting in manual mode means you’ve got to readjust your meters as the light changes or as the subjects move. I’ll forever be thankful for this family for giving me the opportunity to suck at shooting in manual mode. But instead of feeling frustrated I actually felt invigorated. What?! Why?! Because now I knew exactly what I needed to learn: how to master the manual mode and be fast enough at it to catch all those moments that are just photos waiting to happen.

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My next big lesson was a wedding. I wasn’t actually hired as a second shooter but I came along and brought Erin’s Nikon D70s with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. It was a gorgeous, super sunny day (yay for them, ugh for me) and about 100 guests. The bride wanted lots of photos of the guests so I got to work. It was a lot easier shooting people who were sitting still but the challenge of the bright light was a doozy. I played around with overexposing and majorly underexposing just to see how it came out. By the end of the wedding, it was pitch dark out, so I had an opportunity to learn about bumping up the ISO and getting those juicy, grainy photos.

Jamie Oshima + Friends_4842

I basically went from point-and-shoot photography to shooting only in manual mode. And I did this, with Erin’s help, in a matter of weeks (days even). A few of the pics from the family shoot were actually pretty good, and there were some from the wedding that I liked, even though they weren’t album-quality.

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That was about two years ago and I’m proud to say that I am now a professional photographer! Erin hires me as her second shooter now and has used some of my photos in the albums! You wouldn’t even be able to tell that they’re mine, except that I’ll point them out and say, “um…that one’s mine!” I’ve shot multiple events: weddings, family shoots, grand openings, and portraits both with and without Erin (mostly with) and I love every minute of it.

Ralfs youngest

I am a creative photographer, not because Erin taught me how to be, but because she somehow knew I had this inside me and nurtured it into the light of day. Are you wondering what a creative photographer is? It’s someone who trusts their instincts, who sees the whole picture, who connects with the subjects, who moves constantly, who adjusts and adjusts and adjusts, who shoots 100% in manual mode, who loves what they do and has such a passion for the work that it’s not work at all!