a timeline of my photography

我是湖乔治

"Q" is for Qiaozhi

My first "real" photos:


In 2016, as a graduation, my wonderful sister gifted me a Sony a6000. After years of taking photos with only my phone, I finally had some serious photography gear. From that day on, I carried my camera with me everywhere, becoming "that guy" turning every function into an impromptu photoshoot.


But, at the time, photography was kind of a fun activity that I got to do on the side and remember my life by. I didn't treat it as a serious storytelling medium, much less consider it as a future profession. However, the longer I shot, the more I realized that there was a serious dearth of quality, intentional content. My photos were drowning in a sea of smartphone photos. Not that it was a bad thing, but eventually, I kind of gave up on getting better at "capturing the moment" and rather focused on living in it.


After just two years of owning the camera, and I know my sister wanted to strangle me after finding out, I packed it away after a bad breakup and let it collect dust for a while.


Resurgence:


I owe my return to photography to two people: Natalie Cooper and Avery Evans, as well as Emma Halsey who introduced me to them. In 2020, before the pandemic, I "modeled" for Avery and was stunned by the results. I had no idea achieving such visual fidelity with a camera was possible. How did he get such good results? How did he know how to operate a flash in daylight? How did he know how to pose people and capture their essence?


Honestly, this session sparked the joy inside of me to attempt and do the same. And while my fashion choices at the time weren't optimal, I definitely felt the burning desire to pick up my camera again. And so, I did. Bringing some new glass to the table was a game changer, and I pushed myself to my limits during a trip throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Upgrades, people!


During the pandemic, which was a terrible, horrible financial mistake, I purchased a used A7 III from Canada, along with an absolute cannon of a lens (I forget which one, maybe a 50 or 85mm). From the a6000, that was a ridiculous learning curve. There were so many buttons and dials, so many new features, and so many new things to learn.


With a bigger stick, I was able to gain a lot of confidence. Whenever I scheduled a photoshoot, I would always hand the camera to whoever was with me and have them take a few shots of me. I really enjoyed being both behind and in front of the camera. However, if you take a look at the following images from when I was learning the ins and outs of the A7 III, you can tell there were some growing pains.

Maturity.


I think, sooner or later, photography becomes bigger than yourself. If you are "the photographer", your job is to capture the moment. People begin relying on you for consistent photos to remember their time by. If you mess it up, they'll forever remember you as the guy that ruined their ability to remember. I started asking myself: what makes a good photograph? How do you tell a story with a single image? How do you invoke emotion? What's for dinner?


How do I get a "perfect" photo in the moment, when people, the sun, and animals are all moving without hesitating for you to get "your moment"? That, on top of how to use all 12 of my fingers to operate the camera to get the perfect ISO, shutter speed, aperture, focus...


In 2022, I got my A7 III stolen out of my car. And, it wasn't the $1500 camera body or the $1000 lens getting taken that pissed me off the most. Rather, it was the SD card with photos of my mother's birthday celebration going missing that hurt me the most.

What's next?


The more I took photos of people, when they felt comfortable and confident, the more I saw their personalities come out in their photographs. The way they smiled. How they posed for the camera unprompted. How they showed off their swagger. And the more I saw it, the more I wanted to capture it.


The way people's faces lit up when they saw themselves in a beautiful light or a friend captured in a humorous way – it makes photography all the more rewarding. Through the ups and downs, the uninterested to the can't-wait-til-the-next-gig, I can whole heartedly say that capturing images is my favorite hobby.


So, what do I have to show for it?

My favorites: