Evolving as a visual artist takes time, work and practice. Here is a look back at my first three years as a full-time photographer.

This week was a stepping stone for me. It was the third time I was covering the same annual CrossFit competition. Three years of hard work. Three years of experience. I thought it would be cool to do a recap of my three years of evolving as a visual artist in the sports field. I realize that lots of things have changed – and I’m not only talking about my cameras.

2016: Where it all began

Evolving visual artist sports photography
August 2016. First competition ever. CrossFit Quebec City team doing some lunges.

I remember when I got into photography. I started by taking pictures of everything. A walk in the park was an excuse to bring my camera and experiment with aperture, ISO, and speed. I fell in love pretty early with wide apertures and shallow depth of field. When I felt more comfortable, I began to take pictures of the athletes at my local CrossFit gym. A few months later, this experience turned into shooting my first CrossFit competition ever. I had an old Nikon D5000 and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. Not the weapon of choice for sports photography but hey, I made it work because I had nothing else!

Evolving visual artist CrossFit
August 2016. Stephan’s team cheering on him as he competes in the Assault Bike workout.

By that time I didn’t know the difference between RAW and JPEG files. So I photographed everything in JPEG because I’d only started photography school a week earlier. I edited the pictures with the free Lightroom app I had on my iPad Air 2, moving sliders without really understanding what I was doing. Since I didn’t have a computer or even a laptop back then, I bought an adaptor to import the files from my memory card straight to my tablet. When there’s a will there is absolutely a way.

2017: Upgraded and excited

Evolving visual artist clean athlete
August 2017. Alex is successfully completing a one rep max of the Clean ladder.

Fast forward 365 days. I’ve been into photography school for a full year. They were loaning the students a camera until we got our degree (it was a Canon 60D I believe). So I showed up with my both of my cameras – my Nikon D5000 and the Canon 60D. It was a good training for my left/right brain as all the settings were complete opposites. I had my 50mm on my Nikon and the school’s Sigma 70-200 on the Canon. I thought I looked cool with two cameras on my shoulders.

Evolving visual artist female athlete CrossFit
August 2017. Marie-Pier doing a heavy Sled Pull.

By the end of 2016, I decided to invest all of my savings in a MacBook Pro. Big thanks go to my dad who encouraged me by completing what was missing on my budget. I also subscribed to the Adobe Creative Cloud and became pretty efficient with Lightroom and Photoshop. Needless to say, I took thousands of sports images during that year. The work and practice paid off. I got better and better. That made me pretty excited about photographing this second edition of the competition.

2018: Confident and experienced

Evolving visual artist Olympic weightlifting athlete
August 2018. Ben doing the “Split Jerk” portion of the “Clean and Jerk”. Olympic Weightlifting is tricky to photograph but so rewarding when you get the timing perfect. Ironically, this shot was made with the exact same lens I used three years earlier: my beloved Nikon 50mm f/1.8

From August 2017 to August 2018 some major things happened. I did a very educational internship with my good friend Vanelli. That’s where I learned how to edit with Luminar 2018. I graduated from school and became a full-time professional photographer, complete with professional gear and cameras. Since then, I’ve covered major sports events. I’ve worked with multiple businesses. I’m sharing this so that you understand that I started from zero. I’m not better than anyone who begins making photos. I passionately loved what I was doing and I worked my a$$ off. My confidence grew as my business did – or was it vice versa?

I am the same woman as I was three years ago. The only difference is that I have gained experience and confidence in my skills. I am now aware of the worth of my work. I know I can create results consistently. Not everybody can. I have something unique to offer. I am proud of it.

My biggest evolution is not only about my photographic journey. It’s learning about becoming self-sufficient, getting after my goals and working hard. I believe I am in the right place. Everything comes into place one day at the time. I got bigger and bigger contracts. So will you. My work is seen by more and more people. Yours will be too. And one day, you will wake up to realize all the little things you’ve done during those years, all those seeds that you’ve sown are finally coming to life. This is how it worked for me.

The future

I don’t know where 2019 will lead me. I do know that I’m more than ready to keep upgrading my skills, my opportunities and my business. To see how far I’ve come only encourages me to keep going and to believe that more great things will come. During these past three years, I’ve met so many incredible people. I’ve lived amazing experiences I never thought I’d have ever in my life. Photography brought a sense of meaning to my life and goals to achieve. It has helped me grow as a human, as a businesswoman, and as an artist. Many people think that it’s “only” pictures. What differences can photographs make to our friends, families, clients and our own lives? It makes all the difference my friends. It makes all the difference.

Pour la version française de cet article, cliquer ici.