Like most of us, I've always had some form of camera which I have grabbed and clicked to capture the image, without too much thought.
The results would show that lack of thought. Sometimes you would get lucky - as I sometimes did with my first DSLR bought for me 11 years ago. These cameras are clever and in Auto mode capture the moment, but, as I found, it often lacked something. What that was, I wasn't sure as the image was technically correct: technically correct but dull.
So I started shooting in Manual exclusively about two years ago and although it gave me a good grasp of how shutter speed and aperture work, I was still only getting the images I wanted sometimes (some of which are on this site). I wanted good images every time.
Then a friend asked me to photo document a journey she was about to go on - 'People tell me that they like your photos', she had said, 'so I wondered if you would photograph this.' I had to get this right as it was too important and sensitive not to.
The first session changed everything for me photographically as I took lots of bad images. I was nervous, not sure of what I should be doing, placing myself badly, not adjusting to the changing conditions of light or composition. Most importantly, I wasn't taking the time to have the correct settings in a situation where I could have. When I loaded the images for editing, I groaned. That particular moment of my friend's journey had passed and I had not caught the feeling of it.
I learned a lesson. In fact, I learned a few lessons but the first and most important one was learn everything your camera does or can do. Second to this was, when possible, take time to get the image you want.
Photography is a creativity that I find fulfilling and exasperating at the same time. I am seeing potential photos to take almost constantly. It doesn't switch off (particularly distracting when I'm driving).
This year, I made the decision to embrace being a photographer more fully rather than it being just a hobby.
Photo below was taken in September 2009 during a road trip from Manly, NSW to Uluru with four kids. I got lucky with this shot by using my camera in Auto but could do with a bit of editing.