UNEXPhotography - The First 10 Years

This blog post is directly inspired by Renee Robyn. Go check out her work, and prepare to be amazed. I first heard about Renee on The Angry Millennial Podcast (RIP) a few years ago. Immediately I fell in love with her free flowing use of the word “Fuck” and her honesty.

We may have only met once for an awkward high five at Photo Plus Expo a few years ago, but I still like to see the latest work that she produces and keep in touch.

The blog post that inspired this one.

The blog post that inspired this one.


So now is where things are going to get a little embarrassing. I’m about to dig into the archive and pull some of my photos from the beginning.

I already can feel the pit of my stomach getting deeper and deeper, even though I know that learning is a part of the process. Dunning Kruger is one hell of a drug.

Basically in short this chart can be applied to anything. It states that your level of confidence in how good you are at something Peaks at both when you have zero skills, and then again when you really are an expert, but dips lower when you are average.

Basically in short this chart can be applied to anything. It states that your level of confidence in how good you are at something Peaks at both when you have zero skills, and then again when you really are an expert, but dips lower when you are average.

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2007 - This was was taken on one of my first rolls of film for an Intro to Photography class. I'll admit that even still I have another shot from this series in my portfolio. But looking back at this one all I can see is busy background, uncomfortable model, stupid hat (that was mine), and the undeniable fact that I really needed to be MUCH closer to the model.

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2015 - Much better. Still a little far away from the subject, but in this case it works. The background is much more solid, and the model is much more comfortable. A little photoshop work to remove distractions and this turned into a much better shot.

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2008 - Yes. Before you ask. I actually delivered this photo to the clients. And Yes, I got paid for this. I don’t remember how much, but that doesn’t really matter. I just hope it wasn’t anything too outrageous. “Why yes, I’ve never shot a wedding before, so let me go into it with a 50mm lens and zero concept of how to freeze motion”. I’m sorry Chris and Kay…I’m so sorry.

2018 - From just a few weeks ago (from a wedding that I haven’t even posted any images from yet…so, SURPRISE). I have so much respect for wedding photographers, even though this photo is LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than the last one, it still just doesn’t feel right to me. But in the end the couple is happy, and thats what matters to me the most.

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2009 - This isn’t a BAD photo per se, but it’s just not an interesting one. I definitely could do something better with the white balance to remove the red stage lights, and probably would end up cropping more to make the singer the focus of the image.

2018 - But in comparison to the last one this image is just much more visually interesting, better colored (even though its black and white), and has a definite focus.

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2009 - This really is the beginning of where my style is starting come through. Admittedly I really don’t have any idea how lighting works outside of “Throw up some lights and let’s see what happens”. The focus is in the wrong place, and the lighting is far from even or all that flattering.

2018 - This is much better, I actually understand what lighting does and why it does what it does. It’s still mostly back-lit, but I understand how to sculpt the wrap around light to evenly cover the whole subject.


It’s really hard to look back over the last 10 years and see some of these attempts at what my style has become. Back then I was just a college student who applied for his first business license and really only picked up a camera to find something to do in his spare time. I don’t know if I ever thought that I would get to where I am at. But I could see what I wanted my images to be.

I talk about “The Gap” from Ira Glass a lot. In fact, every time it comes up I end up re-posting it in some way (Which I will be doing with this as well). Even though I cringe looking back at the old photos, and probably could have picked some MUCH worse examples of bad images, I’m ending up a lot more comfortable with myself because I can see that I am making progress.

Here is to the last 10 years, and to many more to come. What are some photos that you look back at with fear? How has your work progressed today? Hell, even broader, what changes have you made in your life personally that make you a better person today? Leave some comments below and let me know.

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