My evolution to photographer was not linear. I did not go to school for photography. I did not follow a pre-determined path. I just knew from a very young age that I LIKED it. It was fun. And I went about my way getting business degrees and working the corporate lifestyle, snapping pictures along the way. A few years after we were married, my husband gave me a Canon Digital Rebel, the first “consumer-grade” SLR to come out on the market, for Christmas. I would consider that moment the first of many transformations in my photography life. I took a few night classes at the local community college and my love just kept growing. Over the years, I practiced and played in my spare time reveling in the joy of my hobby. At some point, I don’t even remember how it happened, I came across a website that would spark the next big photography transformation. Shutter Sisters was created to be a jumping off point where women could read about soulful photography, participate, learn and grow in their skills with a camera. I still remember the first time they “featured” one of my images:
I was on cloud nine for weeks. I had just started the first of what would turn out to be many 365 day projects and the recognition kept me pushing and striving to get better. Through that year of pictures, Tracey Clark started teaching a series of classes that started with Picture Spring and ended in another major transformation in my life as a photographer. Through her classes and some subsequent amazing retreats, I found a tribe of women that helped me through a layoff at my corporate job, a period of serious uncertainty and finally turning photography into a full-time career. With their help, I was able to set up my own photography business. That was difficult, but it was also a really interesting process. I had to create a logo with the help of one of the other women in the class. She actually recommended that we used GraphicSprings to create the logo. I really do like my logo now, and I think it helps me to promote my brand. People become familiar with logos, and then they will remember your business’s name.
We stand on the brink of another evolution as I read the news that Shutter Sisters and their Collective Offering have decided to close up shop. I am and will be forever grateful to those women that fanned the spark inside me to the glowing fire I feel now about my work, my passion, my photography. If you feel moved to write, I’d love to hear about your experiences on how you got started and the evolution you’ve experienced into a photographer in the comments at the bottom. -Sharing the love, Angie *******************
Below are some words from others in our Viewfinders team:
I’m not someone who always had a camera in her hand growing up. My love for photography did not evolve slowly, over a period of many years. Instead, during a transition in my life six years ago I picked up a camera, took a few courses, including Tracey Clark’s Picture series and I fell in love. Hard. I was lucky enough to attend Camp Shutter Sisters in Asilomar, California in 2010. I didn’t feel worthy – I was just a girl who liked to take pictures about to spend time with photographers – but when I arrived I settled into the amazing feeling of being around a group of women who love what you love. It was powerful stuff. I remember sneaking away to the beach at lunch for a little self portrait shoot to try to capture what I was feeling. Camp Shutter Sisters gave me the confidence to claim the mantle of photographer for myself. It also brought into my life some amazing women who are now my dearest friends and made it possible for me to be writing this as part of this amazing ViewFinders collective. To Tracey Clark and Shutter Sisters, I am forever grateful. – Debra
The Shutter Sisters was how I first realised what I could do with my camera. And I don’t mean just pointing and shooting it. There were prompts you could follow, there were emotions you could capture and portraits to take. And always the light. Always. This was the first picture of mine that was featured on SS and even though I have reprocessed it a million times since, I love what I was trying to capture then. And I love that the Shutter Sisters saw it too! Having someone else see the vision I had when I took it made it all worth it. Thank you. I would not be where I am now without your encouragement.
We all start somewhere. When it comes to photographic journeys, an inordinate number of our community seem to have started with Tracey Clark. I was a blogger in 2008 using my little Canon point-and-shoot to illustrate the stories I was telling. Along with many others, I discovered Shutter Sisters and was inspired to develop my eye and my skill further. Tracey’s “Picture Spring” (and Summer, Fall and Winter) were an epiphany. My photographic muscles and creativity were stretched and I found my tribe – the people like me – who were telling stories visually and having fun with it. Jump shots, bench shots, purple Chuck shots. New communities sprung into life like the Mortal Muses, of which I was proud to be a founding member as were some of the current Viewfinders. After nervously attending Camp Shutter Sisters at Asilomar, I was lucky to be able to deepen friendships and collaborations with some of the women I met that week. This photo represents some of the women who live in the Bay Area near me, gathered together shortly after that first camp. It’s probably about time for another photowalk, ladies! So grateful to Tracey and all the women who created and kept this community alive.
Oh, Shutter Sisters!!! What a gift you have been to me and to so many kindred women photographers. Shutter Sisters gave me my first community of fellow creatives on the journey. It provided a space for inspiration, gentle nudging, and connection. Attending Camp and then Oasis rooted me with a special group of women who I now call sisters. Tracey Clark has changed my life through her encouragement, generous spirit, and gift in bringing people together. My photography and my life are forever changed by SS and Tracey. I will miss you dearly. xoxo, Meghan ******************* Shutter Sisters inspired me to capture the world, to see light that I would have otherwise passed up as I walked through my day. It was through the Shutter Sister site that I learned about the NowYou self portrait workshop. Through self portrait work I found not only myself, but a beautiful tribe of women. Look at that Polaroid image above. This connection runs deep, it runs strong and true. It is because of this year long journey into self that I now see a tribe of women off line and in real life. We gather (at least) quarterly to laugh, cry, photograph and cook for one another and explore our world together. I wouldn’t be who or what I am today without this huge piece in photography puzzle. Thank you Shutter Sisters. You will be missed.
I felt like I’d won the lottery when I got the chance to attend the first (and second!) Shutter Sisters gathering. I was nervous as I traveled to California to spend a few days with a group of women I’d never met before. It was way out of my comfort zone…but it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Tracey–and all those who had planned these gatherings so thoughtfully, so lovingly–was welcoming, friendly and open, and took away the uneasiness I felt being included in such a group.
I’m not a professional photographer and my equipment wasn’t anything fancy. It soon became clear that making connections–not comparing equipment–was what this time was all about. And those are connections I cherish to this day. I learned so many lessons, both at those gatherings and from the writings of all those who contributed to the Shutter Sisters community. I learned that it’s fun to experiment, to be silly, to try new things, even if the results aren’t perfect. I learned that it’s O.K. to take photos of everyday things, to document your ordinary (extraordinary) life. And I learned that being part of a community is a pretty great thing. Thank you, Tracey, for making that possible!
I’ll never forget the birthday morning I popped onto my computer first thing, as was my custom, to see the Shutter Sisters photo of the day, and saw my photo on the screen looking back at me. I was so utterly confused that for a moment I couldn’t process it. That SS feature became a scaffold – the little bit of confidence and validation I needed – at the perfect time. A month later I entered that same photo in a competition where it took the grand prize. Slowly I began the transformational process of becoming a photographer in my own eyes. I’m not sure it would have happened without Shutter Sisters.
Your site helped me to find my tribe, and sharpen my vision. You showed me how to see gratitude when I needed it most, and encouraged me to focus my energy on personal change through one little word. Each of these on their own is testament to the incredible positive impact of the beautiful community you created, but taken all together, and multiplied by the thousands who see and live differently because of time spent on your sites – it’s an overwhelming accomplishment.
My heartfelt thanks seems insufficient in light of the debt I feel I owe all of the Shutter Sisters and Camera Men, but it’s what I have to offer, along with the wish that the road ahead is filled with light, and beauty, and peace.
What do you say about a movement that touched your heart, opened your eyes and forever changed your life in such a way that there was no going back? Six years ago I was freelancing at an ad agency, sneaking quick moments to read about photography through the eyes of a handful of talented women. I remember deliberating about whether to sign up for Picture Spring or not, as I’d yet to take an online course. I made the leap and was hooked. That was April. By the end of July I was shooting manually with my camera, quite a feat for a dyslexic, number-swapping, math-challenged gal like me. A year after I’d discovered them, my heart skipped a beat, when Tracey Clark invited me to my very first meetup, the Shutter Sister’s Expressive Photography event: “Crossing fingers that the Clark girls can meet.” And that’s how it started.
From one retreat to another, I continued to expand my photographic horizons up until today, when I’m seldom without a camera in my hands. I never imagined that photography would connect me to my beauty, but that’s exactly what the Shutter Sisters taught us to do. To honor the beauty in our daily lives exactly as we lived them. To say that I’m grateful feels too small, too silent, too simple. It’s a truth that I hope shows through in my work as I tell my story, that of my clients, my friends and loved ones around me. Thank you ladies for illuminating my path, showing me that there was, indeed, another way. – Holly
I remember when I started falling in love with photography. I would pick up my camera, not understanding half of the buttons or what they could do, and just started shooting. Slowly, I started posting to Flickr, finding groups with themes, until I found Shutter Sisters and Mortal Muses. I was so thankful that there were groups of women encouraging, inspiring, and teaching other women in this wonderful world of photography. The Christmas I opened Shutter Sister’s book, Expressive Photography, changed so much for me. I would read each page over and over, learning as I went. I remember reading the chapter on details and wondering if I could capture the details on the tip of a leaf or petal. I was ecstatic when the image in the camera looked like what I had imaged.
And for every technique and trick I learned, I met twice as many wonderful photographers that encouraged and inspired me. They are women that have grown from just having the same passion to being dear friends. I am thankful for the women that were willing to share their talent and knowledge to inspire those of us that were just picking up the camera for the first time. I am also so very thankful for the community they created. Thank you, Shutter Sisters. -Staci
I can’t remember how I found Tracey Clark’s Picture Spring class, but I am ever so grateful I did. At the time I was already an eager hobby photographer and had been for many years, but I didn’t know much about what I was doing. Tracey’s class kickstarted my interest in the craft. I learned about changing perspective, and catch lights – a lesson I use to good effect now when shooting portraits of my son – and observing the details, and most of all I learned to shoot from the heart. I still remember the happiness when this image was featured in the class – the thrill of knowing that someone else recognised the value of photographing something I would previously have thought of as a peculiar subject. And of course Picture Spring was only the beginning. When people I knew from class started this site called Mortal Muses, I followed along with enthusiasm. Being invited in as a participant a few years later remains a highlight of my photographic career – and here we are today as the Viewfinders, a new incarnation but hopefully still with something of the Shutter Sisters spirit. ~ Jenny