Why I Started Shooting People… With a Camera That Is

Sawyer's Mk IV Twin Lens Reflex Camera

My working Sawyer's Mk IV Twin Lens Reflex

I’ve been a photographer for a long time.  When I was little, my Dad had me in the darkroom in the basement learning how to develop pictures.  I can’t remember the first time I held a camera.  I actually used to play with an old twin lens reflex as a toy.  Photography was a part of my life that was handed down from my Grandmother, to my Father, to me and now I’m passing the bug along to my children.

However For almost all of that time until just a few years ago, I considered myself exclusively an enthusiast landscape photographer.  I did the required portraiture in my college photography courses, but I never really got the knack for it.  I was happy just taking pictures of rocks, trees and water.

It wasn’t until I made the switch to digital when my kids were born, that I found myself


Old Bridge

more and more interested in expanding my art.  I’ve always admired photographers who work with people.  It was something I thought I would never really be able to do.

Eventually I found myself running into a wall with my photography.  I decided that the best way out, was to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I started taking pictures of friends and family and found that at least with people I knew, it was actually kind of fun.  Everyone liked the pictures I took, so I kept going.


The photo that change my wife's self image.

At one point I took a picture of my wife that really showed me the power of photography.  My wife normally hates having her picture taken, but I was able to talk her into posing for me, with the excuse that I needed to practice with some equipment and techniques.

What happened next was unexpected.  She loved the pictures.  They really boosted her self esteem.  So much, that she posted them to Facebook, and let me post them in my portfolio.  Since then she has been more outgoing and confident.  Her self esteem improved a ton overnight.  It really did change her life.  After that, I had several more requests from friends to, “make them look as good as her.”  I managed to do the same for them too.  I was hooked.

Soon after that, I decided to go WAY out of my comfort zone.  I signed up for a glamour photography workshop at a studio in Toronto, but it ended up getting cancelled for some reason or other.  Disappointed, vowed to myself that I would book the very next event on their schedule before I lost my nerve.  The only thing they had coming wasn’t a workshop.  It was a shoot where they provide the model, sets and makeup artist, but no instruction whatsoever.  The scariest thing was that it was a nude shoot.

It was the only event they had on their schedule though, so I bit back my fears and signed up anyway.  It was amazing.  The model was very talented and I got some great pictures.  My nervousness was completely unwarranted.  The nudity was lost in the professionalism of everyone there, and in the drive to get the best shots possible.

It went so well, and I gained so much confidence from it, that the next day I decided that I

Kirsten Visima

This is model from my first model shoot, which was also my first nude shoot. Talk about pressure.


would go pro.  It’s been a long process that is still underway, but it’s going really well.  It’s definitely something I see myself doing for the rest of my life.

The moral of this story, I think, is that no matter who you are or what you think your specialty is.  You may find out that you have been missing out on something you never imagined.  My advice is to try something new.  Landscape photographers, take a course on portraiture.  Portrait photographers, try some street photography.  There are so many sides to photography that it would take many lifetimes to explore them all.  The fun part is trying.

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