Tragic Loss … Almost

A couple months ago I bought a new 27” iMac with 3 TB of memory. I had been storing all my photos in an external hard drive because my MacBook Pro memory was just about used up. I knew that I needed a back up and kept telling myself I could lose all my photos if the hard drive crashed.   But I kept putting it off, until I got the iMac with plenty of memory available for photos.

The optional added memory led to a delay in actually picking up the iMac. But when I finally went into the Simply Mac store I brought my Mac laptop and the external hard drive for the manager to copy all the critical data to my new computer. Everything seemed to work out fine. When I got home I could easily get my photos from Lightroom. I cruised along for a couple weeks adding photos (although I must admit I didn’t take as many photos in the winter) enjoying seeing my photos on a big screen and then …

When it was time for me to make a presentation at the Teton Photography Group about the Peer Mentor Photography Program I went into Lightroom to get a few photos from the last couple years. I have arranged my photos in Lightroom by the date, which I have found to be very helpful, so I just needed to scroll through 2014 and 2015 to find a pair of photos from the fall season to compare. OH NO !   There were no photos from 2015 at all ! All the photos of the year when I made all my progress were gone !

I searched the new computer memory, the hard drive, and my laptop and couldn’t find any photos from 2015 ! I didn’t know what to do. After about an hour I sent a text to a TPG friend, but he wasn’t available to answer. I marched around the house out-of-my-mind, then returning to the computer to try a new approach. I just about cried, but was too frustrated to take time to tear-up. What was I going to do? What did the guy at the Simply Mac store do when he was copying the 2015 photos from the hard disk? Why didn’t I pay attention to what I had read dozens of times about back ups? Why didn’t I listen to my photo friends? I’ve heard this story before … but I always put the back up off until “tomorrow.” I told myself I deserved this punishment for putting it off … but can’t the photo gods forgive me this time?

Relax Randy, one more approach. How about getting out of Lightroom and search for the photos in the Mac Finder? And I found them. For some reason all the 2015 photos got “lost” in the Lightroom directory and it was pretty simple to get them all back. I have never felt that discouraged, defeated, dejected, depressed … you get the message. But do you ? Are you like the old-Randy? Are you thinking you will get the external hard-drive next week and then back up your photos? Honestly, I have never been that discouraged about photography; I was ready to give-up my drive to improve as an amateur photographer.

I hope that most of you don’t have to worry about back ups because you have already backed up all your photos. But if you haven’t backed up your photos on an external hard drive (or in the cloud?), please take my advice on this one. You don’t want to experience the ordeal I experienced. Go to your local Staples (or wherever you go for electronic), or on-line to Amazon, and get an external hard drive. Then immediately (NOT tomorrow !) back up all your photos.

And just so you can see my improvement, here are the photos I chose to compare the fall of 2014 to the fall of 2015. I think there is improvement. What do you think? And to show how different folks have different opinions of “improvement” and “competence” (see my previous post) … at my presentation not everyone agreed on which of these photos was better, not even the professional photographers.

One is from 2014 and one from 2015.

Which photo is the improved photo?  

Oxbow Bend in the Round

Which photo is the better photograph and why?

Oxbow from 10-2014 (1 of 1)

Involvement Powers Improvement

On the last post I introduced you to Ed Deci’s theory of Intrinsic Motivation. Sorry to be so academic but it seemed like a good way to share something about motivation that is very likely to impact most of us. I’ll try to lay-off the academic stuff in future posts, but let me use Deci’s theory to make one more observation about motivating what I am calling the Growth of Novice and Advancing Amateurs.

Deci says people that are intrinsically motivated to engage in a certain activity (e.g., photography) are likely to feel self-determined, competent, and connected to other people – in our case to people who are also interested in photography. When you are determined to go out on a photo shoot because you will enjoy it, and are feeling competent that your photographs are improving, and are looking forward to a photo shoot with another photographer, you are very likely to be intrinsically motivated. Now let’s focus on the last characteristic in Deci’s theory – connected to others.

Connected to Others – A Photography Mentor

Imagine that you were a Novice Amateur just learning and trying to improve your photography skills without anyone around to help you. You have books, magazines, and on-line information but no one that can personally answer your questions. You take plenty of photographs that you can compare to the images in your books but no one to critique your photos. What would you be missing? What could you add to your journey that would help you improve your photography and motivate you to really work at improvement?

That sounds rather lonely so let’s change the resources a bit. You are a Novice Amateur with very little skills or experience but you have a neighbor who is a professional photographer. He has a studio at home and a gallery in town and after going to one of his presentations it is obvious that his knowledge and experience is extensive. After his presentation you stick around, shyly approach him, and mention to him that you live right across the street. You ask him if he would be willing to talk to you about photography sometime over a cup of coffee or a beer. He agrees but seems rushed and not terrible willing to give you any of his valuable time.

Would you be willing to stop in his gallery to ask him questions about exposure or composition or Lightroom? Would you be willing to bring him some of your photos to critique? Could you ask him if you could tag along with him on a photo shoot?

Your answers to these questions depend a great deal on your personality and your photographic confidence. If you are hesitant to talk with you neighbor, what about a colleague from work whom: You are comfortable talking with; Is interested in photography but isn’t a professional; Is straight-forward and honest, but is a good listener who never belittles others. I imagine most of you are much more likely to approach your co-worker than your neighbor.

Can you learn more from your co-worker than your neighbor? For many of you the answer is probably –“Sure, I’ll gladly take time to be with my co-worker.” But can that co-worker really help? Don’t you need a true expert that knows everything you need to know? I suppose that having that expert be your mentor for 4-5 hours a week for a few months would be very beneficial, especially if that mentor was a good listener and made you feel comfortable. But since he will charge you for his time, could you afford that mentor? I certainly couldn’t afford him.

So what is an amateur photographer to do? In my 37 years as a college professor I spent more than 25 years creating a variety of peer mentor program. I must admit the original idea came from my students and was often revised using their ideas; they could learn from one another if I was there to support them with strategies and resources. In my last five years I met with approximately 50 peer mentors each week to revise the program, create resources, and help them deal with problems. And I am convinced that a peer mentor program would be beneficial for amateur photographers. Now I would like to use what I have learned about peer mentor programs to build a Peer Mentor Photography Program (PMPP) for the Teton Photography Group.

In the most recent posts to this blog I have tried to introduce you to some of the key elements in working with a peer to improve your photography skills, your image quality, and your motivation to move forward and grow as a photographer. To build an effective peer mentor program we need to develop a program where participants:

  • work together and participate regularly (monthly?) in a photo shoot;
  • feel comfortable asking questions and giving feedback to one another;
  • encourage one another to reflect on their progress;
  • share new ideas and techniques about photography;
  • support one another’s growth as an amateur photographer
  • help one another gain confidence in their progress.

To improve on any skill it is important to take some risks. Whether you are learning a sport, or a new job, or a new hobby, or photography, you have to be willing to try activities just outside your comfort zone – and you probably need some support as you take those risks. A professional coach could really help, but a peer who gives you support may have just as much of an impact. So what can you expect from the Teton Photography Group PMPP?

Basic Goals of the Peer Mentor Photography Program

  1. Create a Community of Amateur Photographers that gives support.
  2. Learn to give Information Feedback in a way that supports and encourages the improvement of effective photographic skills.
  3. Build Peer Mentor partnerships that work together at photo shoots and give Informational Feedback to one another as partners.
  4. Meet monthly for PMPP critiques that focus on Informational Feedback but also include sharing what we have learned together as a group.
  5. Highlight topics such as composure and exposure and post-processing to focus on how to improve our photographs.

These are Randy’s tentative goals as of March 2016. One of the many things I learned from my Peer Mentor Leadership Program at the university was that the program worked most effectively when I invited my peer mentors to be involved in the development of the program. I will work to do the same in OUR Peer Mentor Photography Program. I have to start some place to get you involved but I want your input on what is most likely to benefit you. Please give me some feedback in the comment section of this post. Don’t say “Awesome” or “Horrible” 🙂  Tell me, and the other readers, how a program like this might help you. What are you excited to do? What might be challenging and keep you hesitant to make a commitment? What might make you uncomfortable? What can Randy do to help you feel excited to get involved?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have joined the Teton Photography Group about a year ago. I was immediately connected to a group of photographers (from amateurs to professionals) who were patient, willing to answer my questions, and eager to go out on a photo shoot with me. As a member of the Steering Committee I felt committed to go to all the meetings, which encouraged me to take some risks including sharing my images with the group. I have learned so much from my experience … and now I hope I can share what I have learned with you.

On Monday March 21st I will be making a presentation for the Teton Photography Group on the Peer Mentor Photography Program. The presentation will be at 6:00 pm to about 8:00 and will be held in the Jackson Hole Real Estate Association at 80 West Broadway, about a block west of the town square in Jackson WY. I hope to see you there so I can answer your questions.

Photography: Work or Play ?

Have you ever had a sport or hobby or activity, in which you loved to participate that resulted in you losing interest? Did you love to cook and then started cooking on the side to make some cash, only to regret getting involved? Did you enjoy woodworking but when the demand for your work at a local store increased dramatically you didn’t enjoy your hobby any more?

My son Jason started playing soccer when he was 5. He loved playing on a travel soccer team with his buddies and won a number of state championships. As a young adolescent he was chosen for the state all-star team and was invited to the Midwest All-Star soccer camp. But the third year he was invited he chose not to go to the camp because it wasn’t fun anymore; the camp had become all about making the national team. He was an all-state player in high school and his team was state runner-up, but after getting a number of scholarship offers he told me he didn’t want to play soccer anymore. What happened to his love for soccer?

I must admit that I was disappointed in his decision but after reflecting on what had happened it made sense. I was an educational psychology professor and my focus on educational motivation helped my understand Jason’s decision. It also helps me to understand what has been happening to me – and maybe can help you understand what might help you. When you engaged in an activity because you enjoy it and then “engagement” is due to an external reward, it is likely that your motivation decreases or is even negative.

Ed Deci is a psychologist who has spent his whole life studying what motivates people; particularly what motivates people to be engaged in activities without any clear external rewards. This type of motivation is called Intrinsic Motivation because the “reward” comes from engagement in the activity rather than an external reward like money or winning a competition. I find this to be extremely important for amateur photographer as pointed out in a joke I have heard a number of times in the last year: Do you know the best ways for photographers to make money? Sell their photography gear 🙂 If you are looking for a $$ reward, look again you may learn to dislike taking photographs.

Intrinsic Motivation – A Path to Improving Photography

Since it is unlikely we can make money (which is a extrinsic reward) from selling photographs, it is important we become intrinsically motivated. Deci’s theory of motivation states that people who are Intrinsic Motivated need to feel:

  • Self-Determined – Motivated people feel in control,
  • Competent – Motivated people feel they are improving their skills,
  • Connected to Others – Motivated people typically work with others,

If you have been following the story of my photography problems in 2014 and my improvement in 2015 I bet you can guess where I am going with this.

To be an intrinsically motivated photographer you need to believe that you have chosen to be engaged in photography – not because you have to, but because you want to. To be intrinsically motivated you also need to believe you are competent. That does not mean you believe you are a highly skilled photographer, but rather that you can see you are improving. And Deci’s third intrinsic variable is an unusual one – the need to feel connected with others. One of the strongest emotional supports for intrinsic motivation is to be working with others. Let’s look at how these three variables have impacted me and how they might be impacting you.

Self Determination seems rather obvious but sometimes you need to look below the surface. Is it my choice to become a photographer in my retirement? Sure. But what if I think I have to find something to do? If I feel I am forcing myself to find something to do, then I am less likely to look forward to being engaged in my “hobby.” If you think you have to go out on a photo shoot, then it is less likely that you will enjoy it. If you dread going out for photo shoots in the winter because you hate being cold and you force yourself to go, then it is less likely that you will be motivated in the future. But if you love the outdoors and the solitude of a sunrise, then you are more likely to enjoy being a photographer. “Work” is an activity you need to get paid to do: Don’t make photography work !

The foundation of Competence is recognizing that you are improving your skills, which may be the most important variable in building intrinsic motivation. Whether you are a young child learning to read, a teenager learning social skill, or a retired professor learning to become an advancing photographer, feeling that you are becoming more competent has an enormous impact on your motivation. If the young child does not believe they are improving as a reader, they will give up. If a teenager believes they have no social skills and no one likes them, they will isolate themselves from potential friends. And if this retired professor didn’t see his photography skills improving, it is likely he would have given up and returned to taking family pictures and vacations. Finding a way to actually see your improved competence is critical to continued motivation.

Being Connected to Others is an important part of intrinsic motivation for most, but not all, people. Most of us enjoy being with others, at least for some of the time we are involved in photography. That is not to say that we need to hang-out with folks for every photo shoot. But if we have peers that have similar photo interests it can have an impact on our motivation to “get out there” and then share our photos with our peers. Certainly there are photographers who take photos by themselves and only share their photos with others on-line – and they can be highly motivated. But my own experience has shown me that I feel more motivated if I can occasionally have a photo shoot with a partner, and share my photos with a community that is supportive. My journey to become a better photographer has had many valleys, but my connection to enthusiastic peers has kept me motivated to improve.

I haven’t had many problems with the Self Determination and I will be addressing the Connected to Others in my next blog post, so let’s take a look at my experience with Competence. As I drag you along on my journey, take time to reflect on how these three variables are impacting your journey as a photographer.

Boosting Photography Competence – Check out the Past

One of the most important variables in boosting my confidence as a photographer has been the time I have taken to look at old photographs. I must admit I didn’t intentionally choose to look at photographs from the last two years. I just explored some family photographs and realized my photography had changed.

One of the first things I learned from my involvement in the Teton Photography Group (TPG) was the value of Lightroom (LR). I thought LR was just for photo editing but at my first TPG meeting one of the members told me LR had many applications. He explained that LR allowed me to create a valuable organized photo library. Lightroom has become the most valuable photo gear I have ever purchased for many reason. The most important reason is LR helped build my confidence during 2015 and now in 2016.

Lightroom allowed me to categorize many years of photos by date, place, and the people I had photographed. During 2015 I added the date, place, etc. to most of my photos and in my spare time (remember, I’m retired) I began to add this information to older photos all the way back to the turn of the century and older. It is certainly fun to look at old photos of my children and grandchildren when they are easily accessible. But the impact on my confidence was unanticipated.

Every time I took photos in 2015 I entered them in LR shortly after taking them. Most of the time I looked them over and searched for photos that I thought were pretty good (a 4-star rating was like a grade of B, a 5-star a grade of A). I rarely went back and looked at them, until late 2015 when I accidently looked more carefully. I was looking for photos to use in a Christmas calendars for my family and realized all the good ones were from late in 2015. And when I started checking out the ratings from early in 2015 compared to late in 2015, I was shocked. Early in 2015 I was rating quite a few photos as 4-star that I now thought were pretty bad. My wife helped me choose the 12 photos for the calendar and she noticed how much better the later photos were compared to earlier in the year. The criteria I was using to judge my own photos had changed rather dramatically whether the photo was a landscape or a photo of our dog. My “photographic eye” had changed as I improved and so did my confidence.

There are many ways to boost someone’s confidence. But the best way for a person’s confidence to strengthen is for them to realize that their skills are improving. Telling a child they are a much better reader is not as helpful as the child recognizing they can finish reading a much harder book. Telling a young teenager they are going to make friends is not as helpful as the teenager actually making new friends. And when people comment on your photos on Facebook and tell you they are beautiful, gorgeous, or awesome it doesn’t have a long-term impact on your confidence as a photographer. But when your audience tells you that your photos have great leading lines, and you intentionally composed your photo with leading line … your confidence improves. Let’s look at how my photos changed from 2014 – 2015.

Randy’s Improving Photos from 2014 – 2016

Let’s start with something simple and really unintentional. If you are improving in your photography, even your everyday photos of your pets may be getting better. Chris and Koty (our dog) and I often go cross-country skiing in Teton Canyon on the west side of the Tetons. I often take photos of Chris and Koty.

Koty @ Teton Canyon 2014 (1 of 1)

Look at the improved composition of the winter of 2014 (to the right) to the winter of 2016 (below.) This is a photo I took in the winter of 2014.  Certainly I wasn’t looking for a good composition since I didn’t even know what a good composition looked like.  And I suspect the 2014 photo was shot on auto.

And this is a photo (below) I took this winter without really thinking about composition.  The mountains in the background were quite different and I remember thinking I should get a good foreground with those rocks as Koty ran by them.

Koty @ Teton Canyon 2016 (1 of 1)

Let’s l0ok a comparison (below) that really shows how little composition skills I had “back-in-the-day” compared to when I just got started with the Teton Photography Group.  Isn’t that sky beautiful 🙂 and what a great foreground 🙂 .  Just kidding.

Oxbow Bend 5-2014 (1 of 1)

Oxbow Bend is one of the most popular places to take photos in Grand Teton National Park. The fall colors are very popular but let’s look at a winter comparison of May 2014 to May 2015. It is very obvious that the winter of 2014 was much colder than 2015 (there was still ice in 2014) but look at the composition comparison. Neither are great photos but the May 2014 (above) was shot in JPG with bland sky and a washed out mountain. The May 2015 (below) certainly isn’t anything great but compared to the 2014 it is a huge improvement. It has some texture, much better color, and better composition.

Oxbow Bend 4-29-2015 (1 of 1)

A comparison of the Snake River Overlook 2015 (below) to Snake River Overlook 2016 may not seem like a fair comparison. Yea sure, the weather in 2015 was not good for photos compared to 2016. But in January of 2015 I didn’t really realize the impact of the weather and a sunrise on my photography.  I would never have gotten up at 5:00 am to see the sunrise in early 2015 and I didn’t have a photography partner.  By the way, showing this photo is a bit embarrassing but I’ve  embarrassed myself in this blog before.  Moving from embarrassed to more confident is part of our journey. Snake River Overloook 1-2015 (1 of 1)

But in January 2016 I got up at 5:00 am, met my photography buddy (thanks Mario) in Jackson, and drove up to the Snake River Overlook and got all set-up for a great sunrise. It didn’t turnout to be as good a photo as Ansel Adams 🙂 but the actual sunrise was beautiful and the photos were pretty good.  In case you have never been to the Grand Teton National Park, this is the place where Ansel Adams made the park famous.  It is gorgeous all year.

Snake River Overloook 1-2016 (1 of 1)

And although I don’t have a 2014 or 2015 comparison photo, I’d like to share this photo of the Grand Teton in January 2016. I took this on a cross-country ski with a couple of TPG buddies. It wasn’t intended as primarily a photo shoot but we all brought our cameras and this beautiful morning demanded some photographs.  It certainly isn’t obvious in this photo but an enjoyment of the outdoors, an increasing confidence, a better trained eye, and time with photography friends (thanks Paul and Aaron) is likely to lead to much better photographs.

Grand Snowy Fence 1-19-2016 (1 of 1)

And the Future is Bright

The next blog post will be about the third variable in Deci’s Intrinsic Motivation – Connection to Others.  I will be making a Teton Photography Group presentation on Monday March 21st at 6:00 pm in Jackson.  I will talk about some of the issues I have mentioned in my blog with an emphasis on the value of being connected to other photographers, especially through a Peer Mentor program I will be developing.  I hope to see you there.

 

But It All has Changed

It seems rather strange but it all began at about the turn on the century. Boy, does that make me sound old. I bought my first digital camera (a Nikon Coolpix E4100) and soon found out I was about to become a grandpa. As the guy who took family pictures, I certainly needed a “real camera” so I went out and bought a Nikon D70. In the following years I took a lot of digital photos of my granddaughter, and then my grandson, and enjoyed sharing these photos with my family. And occasionally we went on vacation and I took shots of beautiful places, and assumed these shots were beautiful photographs. And I liked them back then. But now when I go back and look at them I realize they aren’t beautiful photographs. Back then I thought I was a pretty good photographer … but it all has changed.

It’s been six months since I put up the first post on my blog FirstanAmateur.com. When I went back and read the first post, one line stood out: I hope when you read about what I have learned it will help you move forward with better artistic photographs. It reminds me that it might be good to take some time and reflect on what I have learned starting back at the turn of the century, share that with you, and invite you to reflect on what you have learned about becoming a better photographer.

But let me start at the beginning, or at least at the beginning of the new revival of Randy’s photography. When my wife and I retired and moved to Victor Idaho my first “job” was to help out the guys who were building our house. I wanted to learn about home construction and our contractor was very willing to make me the gopher who helped out with the very basic stuff. He was also very nice about answering questions. I felt comfortable to ask silly questions since it was only expected that I didn’t know doddle-squat about construction. In some situations we feel comfortable asking questions; in other situations we feel foolish.

After our house was complete I started looking for something to keep me busy and out of trouble. 🙂 I had always enjoyed taking pictures so I thought I could make an easy transition to being a really good photographer, especially since I lived in the beautiful environment of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. I thought it would be easy to make huge improvements in a short time, but I was dead-wrong. And since this blog is about my journey to help you with your journey, let me share the problems from the very beginning – problems some of you may be experiencing.

To become a better photographer I thought I should:

Take a lot more photographs – This certainly sounds like a good idea but it didn’t solve the problem. I remember telling my students that to improve their test scores they should study many more hours; but they just spent more time “studying” in front of the TV. I found that in my first year trying to become a better photographer I took a lot more pictures, carried my camera with me more often, but the photos weren’t any better. I didn’t know what to look for when taking photos. I just started firing away. Just like my students who didn’t really think about their studies, I didn’t really think about the photographs I was taking.

Read more books and learning the lingo – It didn’t take too long for me to learn the photo vocabulary: aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, etc. But I couldn’t really apply any of the terms. I had told my students that they needed to be able to apply what they were learning to real life experience, but they assumed memorization was all they needed. I read the books and sat with my camera in my lap to set the aperture and shutter speed, but when I went out to take photographs I typically used the auto setting; it was easy to do in my chair the night before but in the field the auto was much easier. But I wasn’t really engaged in all this and I didn’t have anyone to turn to when I had question – and I had a LOT of questions, all “dumb” questions. I felt uncomfortable and wondered why this was so difficult for me to grasp.

Shoot in the Golden Hour – Most of the books and articles I read talked about how critical it was to use the golden hour to take photographs. That certainly made sense but I didn’t “see the light” (sorry for the pun) and didn’t get out to take shots before sunrise. I didn’t understanding and appreciation that the value of the “golden hour” was worth the inconvenience of getting up early; just like my students didn’t realize that though studying every day was inconvenient, it was the best was to learn. And looking in retrospect, I knew what I should have done but didn’t have my own photos of the warmth of the lighting during the golden hour. It’s easy to get lazy when you are getting discouraged.

But there were Challenges to Improving My Photographs:

Discouragement – Back-in-the-day I can remember sending off color film for processing thinking I had some great shots, only to be disappointed. In my new life as an amateur photographer I had the same disappointment. After a day of hiking and taking many many photos I arrived home to look at a lot of ordinary pictures that didn’t resemble photos in the books I was reading. I didn’t expect to take National Geographic photos right away :-), but I thought they would be pretty good. But they were bland and discouraging. If the Grand Teton National Park didn’t “create” impressive photos, maybe the Grand Canyon would – – – but it didn’t.

Discouragement Undermines Confidence – As a professor of a challenging course I frequently had many conversations with discouraged students, many of whom anticipated academic success while others expected failure. Their failure to reach their goals undermined their confidence. This often led to a lack of involvement in class (e.g., they feared asking questions because they would look stupid), a lack of effort (e.g., lazy was a better explanation for failure than stupidity), or they just gave-up and essentially dropped out. I found that I was experiencing the same decreasing confidence. I thought if I put forth a little more effort I would make huge improvement; I was terribly wrong. But just like my students, I didn’t want to admit I was having so much trouble. Other people seemed to take great photographs. What was wrong with me?

My Eyes and Brain don’t work like My Lens and Camera – Living in a beautiful place like the mountain west has its advantages but photo progress can be slow. The beauty of the Grand Tetons seemed so obvious that I’d put on my wide-angle lens to capture all the gorgeous scenery before me. But when I got home the images on my computer looked pretty bland and unimpressive. What was wrong? Why doesn’t my lens and camera take the same shot as my eyes?

Eye Training Takes Time – Reading a lot of photography books and examining Ansel Adams photos is helpful. But training your eyes to recognize what makes a great photograph takes time, experience, and thoughtful reflection. I suspect taking an art class would help (I think I slept though my only art class in college many year ago) but I imagine that the application of line, balance, texture, etc. is critical and I have found that it takes time. And in retrospect, I think it can really help to work with someone and discuss what you see and what you are learning; it can be really tough to improve your photography by yourself. At least I found that it was an important aspect of learning for me.

If Step #1 Ain’t Working, Time to Move on to Step #2

At about the time my discouragement and confidence were hitting bottom a friend suggested I look for a photography club. Tom was involved in a club in South Carolina and he had really gained a lot from having photographers around. I went on-line and found that the Teton Photography Group was a club that met monthly about an hour from our house. I had reservations (remember I was discouraged and lacking confidence) but I was committed to making progress so I planned to attend the next monthly meeting, an Informal Critique.

Back in the fourth blog (The Challenge of Getting Motivated to Learn) you might remember that I admitted that I didn’t take my photos to the Informal Critique at my first meeting with the Teton Photography Group. I was discouraged and lacking confidence and I assumed that my photos would be shot-down. I suspect there are many start-up amateurs (let’s call them Novice Amateurs) that have the same concern and are also lacking confidence. If there is anyone I am hoping to reach with my FirstanAmateur.com blog it is the Novice Amateurs. I am planning on putting up a post next week (Sorry, I know I haven’t done well in sticking to my timelines) to share what I have done in 2015 to move forward. I hope you will join me and make some comments.

I will also have another opportunity to work to help Novice Amateurs and other photographers this coming month. As a members of the Teton Photography Group steering committee, I will be in charge of the Informal Critique (Monday March 14th) and a presentation (Monday March 21st) on a new Peer Mentor Photography Program (PMPP) that I will be developing. I will be talking about these photo activities in upcoming blog posts.