A well known photographer once told CLG Advanced Grad Amy Holcombe creative compositions can’t be learned.
And she was crushed.
But she dived into the Advanced Course and very quickly proved that idea… is absolute rubbish!
Today I chatted with Amy who after taking our Advanced Photography Course has gone on to shoot dream photography jobs that she’d never thought possible. She’s been flown to beautiful locations to shoot stories and breathtaking images for Graziher Magazine, and capture farm families stories as a professional photographer!
But when she was first learning photography she sought out a well known photographer who taught workshops and was told ‘you can’t learn composition’ and she was crushed! Fast forward to taking the Advanced Photography Course, and she discovered to her joy that it CAN be taught, and she’s example of that in her beautiful work!
If you missed it live, click below to watch the replay.
Amy lives in Moura, Central Queensland where she owns and runs a cattle property with her husband Rich, and three children Ella (12), Immy (10) and Charlie (7). She has spent her entire life in agriculture in some form or another, and says she loves being part of their farming business.
She says when they bought their farm, they’d been living in town so it was a huge lifestyle change and she wanted to capture it all.
“When we purchased our property about 10 years ago, it was amazing, and I wanted to celebrate that by documenting my family’s rural life… what we did and the memories of how my children grew up. This was when I really started trying to learn photography”.
So Amy started documenting family life, but said she was never really happy with what she was taking. She googled and found Click Love Grow, and took the Enthusiast Photography Course. In there she learned the foundations of photography including using her camera confidently in manual mode. She loved it and the way the content was taught, and craved even more learning.
“I learned all the techniques to take a sound photo… but I wanted to capture the feeling.”
She was ready for the next steps.
Amy had such a love of the storytelling power of photos, and she wanted to learn how to do that. She knew if she could learn to see, she could capture the mood and emotions of the moments she was documenting. So she signed up to do a workshop with a well known Queensland photographer, and told her she wanted to learn how to take amazing compositions. But the response was completely unexpected.
“She said ‘composition can’t be learned’, and I was crushed. I still remember her saying that and thinking ‘oh my god, is this it for me?'”
She wanted to join our Advanced Photography Course but says she was only doing photography for herself. She had no intention of going into business, so she sat on the fence about it for a long time. But after this crushing experienced, she joined.
At Click Love Grow we say you absolutely can learn to see. In fact we teach it in our Enthusiast Course, and go even deeper in our Advanced Course when we teach you how to break the rules like an artist.
And Amy’s photos are proof, as she pointed out herself…
“My photos are very different to what they were back then, since taking the Advanced Course, proving it CAN be learned”.
Amy says the composition and lighting lessons blew her mind, and played a big part in helping her achieve her goal.
“Learning to use light in conjunction with your compositions, that is where the real magic starts to happen!!”
She also learned how to confidently take beautiful photos regardless of the time of day.
“Shooting in the middle of the day was something I had to learn how to do, especially when shooting formals. Looking at these photos you’d never know they were taken at 2.30pm and not during the golden hour.”
So what about those compositional skills she was after? I asked Amy to share some of the compositional techniques that gave her those prized a-ha moments, and she said:
“Understanding the rules are often just a guideline… I learned how to break the rules I took from the Enthusiast Course. I also learned how to draw the eye into the photo and hold it there with composition… this was one area I was really lacking in, so becoming more aware of things that draw the eye in and lead the eye out, allowed me to compose my images better”.
So now she will analyse the story she’s trying to tell, and make decisions about what elements in the environment she can include to tell that story.
For example in this shot below, she wanted to tell the story of growing up on a farm. She talked about that rusty letterbox and recalls memories of the excitement of rushing to the letterbox down a long dusty driveway to collect the mail, which is such a common feature of country life for children. Add to that the dusty ground, big skies, akubra hats.
So she asked the boys to run toward her and kick up dust as they went. She mindfully included the letterbox, their hats, and a vast expanse of negative space to intentionally include that big sky because rural life = big uninterrupted skies.
And I know you’ll agree she nailed the brief.
As Amy said she started out trying to improve her photography skills simply to take better photos of her kids and family life. So imagine her surprise when she got a call to do a photoshoot for a magazine publication she loved – Graziher, a rural magazine aimed at women.
She says when she got that first call, it took her an hour to get up the courage to return the call. And of course she said yes! For that first shoot, they flew her to Townsville. Glamourous much?
Oh AND they loved her photos so much, she got the cover, which wasn’t the original plan!
I was fascinated about how it works when you’re a professional photographer on a magazine and I asked her to share her process.
“The magazine start by telling me the story they want to tell, and it’s my job to recreate it in images”
Sounds easy huh? Well, it is when you have mad storytelling photography skills, which we think Amy has in spades.
Amy also loves to tell stories of women, and as Graziher is a magazine aimed at women in rural and farming areas, it’s a perfect fit.
“I love telling women’s stories… so many stories about women don’t get told or don’t get seen”.
I asked Amy what she would say to anyone who is ready for the next steps in their photography and thinking about the Advanced Course.
“Just sign up for it. I sat on the fence for it because I was only doing it for me. I was never doing it with the thought of going into business. It’s one thing to be able to use your camera but to be able to take the kind of photos you want… if you feel you want to know more and you want to take it deeper… the Advanced Course is amazing for those next steps”.
And what did she love most about learning with Click Love Grow?
“You work on things over time! It’s not a crash course that you must try and take things in quickly and then go away and try to remember to apply it. You work on one concept at a time, then you go away for 2 weeks to work on that skill. For me and my learning style, this is perfect as it solidifies it in my brain far more!
Many thanks to Amy for your time, words and beautiful images! If you want to see more of her work, you can find her here.
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