I never thought I could.

I remember when I first jumped into the world of blogging about my travels. The way I went about shooting, organizing, editing, and sharing photos was completely different to how I approach it today. I had seen many friends who really knew how to use their cameras and then bring their photos to life in Lightroom or Photoshop to create stunning masterpieces. I truly believed I would never be able to learn how to share my pictures from recent trips the way they did, or ever use my camera off the “auto” function or edit my photos in something other than my photo album on my computer. 

When I think back to my first, cautious steps into the world of travel photography, I always go back to my cousin (he’s a fashion photographer). One of my best friends, for years I’d watched him shoot beautifully composed photos and then edit away on Lightroom and Photoshop. I was intrigued with the ability to take an image and transform it, and tell a story but the tools he used seemed so complex. I brushed the notion of one day being able to use the same tools. I’m not a travel photographer, I thought to myself.

Almost two years ago, I remember the day I yelled at my husband, “I will never learn how to use my camera other than in Auto!”. I was so frustrated. I felt trapped in the pattern of shooting in “Auto” and then doing basic editing on my computer, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out. Being limited to only shooting in the most ideal of lighting conditions, my auto-driven process left me feeling helpless and disempowered a large percentage of the time. Unable to close the gap between the inspiring scenes I was experiencing and what I could capture in pixels, left me with a deep sense of creative frustration.

Ultimately, to be honest, I was fearful of breaking into the unknown. My perception of DSLR cameras and Lightroom/Photoshop was that they were only for the “professionals” (which I wasn’t) and best left for them.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Fast forward a few months later. I swallowed a big piece of humble pie, and finally nerved up to ask a photographer friend how she was shooting an image. She was kind enough to teach me the basics, and my long-held apprehension vanished in my amazement of how easy and simple it was. I turned the dial from “Auto” to “Aperture Priority” for the first time.

For the first time, the gap between what I was seeing and the images I was capturing began to narrow and I was able to share more about my travels, than ever before..

With the metaphorical doorway cracked open, I stepped through. A few more YouTube videos and tips from other photographers ultimately gave me the confidence to never use “Auto” again. Fueled by a confidence that can only come from demystifying something you thought was out of reach, I became addicted to learning everything I could about photography. I began spending afternoons shooting and experimenting all the different ways you can adapt the camera’s settings to the ever-changing light to create the styles I was envisioning. With each snap of the shutter, I slowly began to build a repertoire of techniques that would, in the end, define my personal style as a photographer.

The gap was closing even further.

Fueled by the improvements I was seeing in my raw photos, it quickly became clear that demystifying the post-production process was my next frontier. One day, my husband asked me if I was interested in using Lightroom for editing photos (for context, I’m married to a designer, and Photoshop is opened on his computer more days then most). He had asked several times in the months before, which I declined. Most of my photography time is actually spent post-shoot. I love curating and editing the photos. So the thought of changing my workflow from what I was used to was difficult to consider. But, this time was different. To my husband’s surprise, I said, “Sure let’s go for it.”

Having avoided Lightroom for so long, and now embracing it excitedly for the first time, I couldn’t believe how approachable and powerful the tool was. To my delight, the learning curve was brief. It only took a few tutorials and bit of experimentation to start feeling comfortable working with photos in Lightroom (side note: if you are already using  Photoshop Elements, the transition into Lightroom and Photoshop is even easier). Integrating Lightroom into my post-production process empowered me with a level of creative freedom I’d been craving for a long time. I loved that I could color correct images, balance the lighting, and create and save my go-to effects. I’d found the last piece I was missing.

For the first time, the gap between what I was seeing and capturing vanished.

I haven’t looked back since.

In such few words, I admit, it’s easy to sugar coat the journey. Make no mistake, the process of learning how to use my camera and edit in Lightroom was a challenging undertaking. I took thousands of photographs and spent countless hours in front of the computer honing my personal composition and editing style. But more than physical effort, transforming my photography required a profound shift in my mental approach. It required that I stop telling myself “I could never” and replace it with “I can learn”. This shift in mindset changed my life as a photographer forever. And the Adobe products have since played a huge role in my travel blogging career. They’ve become indispensable tools that empower me every day to push my creativity further and to create the best work of my life.

*This post was created through sponsored partnership with Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Tools, Lightroom and Photoshop. 

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Great post ! I completely understand what you are saying, regarding your pre-Lightroom phase. I’ll see a beautiful scene in front of me but be limited but the natural lighting available, and the photo just won’t turn it how I imagine it will. I really need to learn more about editing! I used Adobe a tad in college but haven’t touched it since. I love the look of your photos.. So vivid but natural. Thanks for sharing !

  2. Avatar

    Thank you! So needed to read this as I was getting despondent myself, but now Im going to try again!

  3. Avatar

    I am so in love with that last picture of you holding up the camera. The whole thing is beautiful! I have been using Photoshop for so long but I’m considering Lightroom since it’s easier to edit images in bulk than go through one by one.

    • Jessica Wright
      Jessica Wright Reply

      ah thank you for the sweet words! You should give it a try!

  4. Avatar

    Thanks for the post "from amateur to Pro" I too am stuck in that "rut" of my photography interest although when I started someone told me right from the ‘get-go’ do NOT shoot in auto but instead choose manual and further more, use the RAW option instead of jpeg. Especially if post process programs such as PS or any related post processing program will be of use. Taking this persons advise, I went forth and started shooting in Manual mode using the RAW imaging option. (I use PSE14 on my laptop) Now, saying all that, I also heard of people who rather spend most of their time in the field of photography well… in the field instead of post processing their photos. I know this contradicts what you prefer to do but what I am trying to understand is what the benefits are between the two. Why is one better than the other?
    Great article(s) BTW!!

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