Journey To Becoming A Professional Photographer

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By Gail Bunning of Gail Anne Photography

Becoming a professional photographer has been one of the most difficult, most challenging and most rewarding paths in my life. I always knew that I wanted to take photos. Even as a child I had this fascination with how film and that little box worked. How it saw images different then my eye but more like my heart.

I blossomed into a “photographer” as an adult really. I can say it was right around when my first child was born. The inexpensive camera given to my husband and I served a great purpose as I snapped a million and one photos of this tiny creature we’d created. I started with the average snap shot and slowly moved to draping fabric across my living room. All a mess at the time, I cherish these photos as if the most professional and well known photographer had taken them.

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I saved money, clipped coupons, taking her to Olan Mills and JCPenney’s, hoping for that perfect and beautiful shot of her perfect and beautiful smile and when her brother came along, I started all over again only this time I realized that no one could know them and capture them like I could and that started it off, this journey of photography.

I bought my first DSLR camera with 500.00 that I made designing for a church a million miles away. I met the man with the canvas bag in a coffee shop a half an hour away. I held that camera in my hands and just knew this was my calling. 500.00 opened up this huge, new world for me.

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I read and learned and snapped. I joined a photography board. I decided to go pro. Decided. Such a funny word. I was no way ready to charge anyone for anything but I just knew that I needed to get these photos out. I wanted to share and snap. I was so excited. I was a photographer.

I upgraded that camera a year or so later. To something more professional. I’d “shot” families and babies and births. Examining each photo, editing, learning, absorbing. A few years later, another camera, more glass, more classes, more actions and more about the business. But what I forgot is that becoming, being a photographer doesn’t mean you shoot for money. You don’t become a photographer to make a million dollars, you become a photographer to capture moments in time. The income is just a job perk.

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While I was capturing everyone else. Each event, each smile, each newborn, I missed photos of my own memories. Constantly worrying about light and marketing, I’d forgotten why I started this journey. To capture my life. The ups and downs of it. I was spending so much time coming up with a brand, an entire year passed by and all I had was portraits, perfect photos and not down and dirty kids in the mud. My oldest is ten and I am not sure there are ten photos of she and I together. I was so busy worrying about the perfect photo that I’d forgotten to hand the camera over and capture the moments with me in them.

I got lost in the photography.

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Now I try and remember to capture the bed heads, the smiles and the tears and while there are still experiments in backdrops and lighting, I take their photos in full sun and leave the perfect to my clients. Okay, that’s not all true, sometimes they get imperfect because I want them to remember their families like I remember mine, perfectly imperfect, emotionally focused… a family, plain and simple. There is a time and a place for that perfect pose but I encourage you to remember to take pictures and not just portraits. They’re just as important. It’s the pictures that tell the stories of our lives. When your children have grown and moved out and your spouse’s looks fade into age, you’ll want to look back and see what once was. Photos capture the memories our heads can’t hold onto but I hearts long for. Remember to take pictures, even if they’re not perfect now, someday they will be.

This post was written by Gail Bunning of Gail Anne Photography. Gail is the mom to three plus one naughty beagle. She’s tattooed and changes her hair a lot. She loves her job, a lot. She loves people, and she loves watching families grow. Gail has a minor craft addiction and may or may not be utterly addicted to Facebook. Photography makes her happy, it’s her fire.

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 Journey To Becoming A Professional Photographer

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and teaches Photoshop to photographers across the globe.

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28 Comments and 0 Replies



  1. 1
    Courtney says:

    beautiful and oh so true.

  2. 2
    michelle a says:

    Great article. Gail is a rockstar! <3

  3. 3

    [...] 1 votes vote Journey To Becoming A Professional Photographer By Gail Bunning of Gail Anne Photography Becoming a professional photographer has been one of [...]

  4. 4
    Skye says:

    This is SO what we need to hear…thanks for this post – it certainly hit home. :)

  5. 5

    I have to say, I’ve been stuck in that same place, and have tried to stop and capture the everyday more with my kids too… very well written.

  6. 6

    I was guilty of that last year when I “became” a pro. However, this year I’m doing a personal 365 project with another group of pros. We are capturing self portraits, the mundane moments around the house, family shots… everything that we might have forgotten to shoot when we are all wrapped up in the biz. Great reminder. :)

  7. 7
    Eileen says:

    I LOVED this post. Seriously.

  8. 8
    Krista says:

    Thank you. This brought tears to my eyes.

  9. 9
    HollyB says:

    I love this. Really hit home for me. I love your line about getting lost in the photography. I feel like that a lot. I’ve forgotten to shoot for me. Thank you.

  10. 10
    Rae says:

    This article really resonates with me. I have spent so much time learning and perfecting my craft & taking client portraits, that I forget to just take “pictures” of our family and our times together. Thx for the reminder. Great article!

  11. 11
    Becki says:

    What a great reminder and inspiring article – thanks :)

  12. 12
    deirdre says:

    Go Gail! Inspirational article!

  13. 13
    Amanda says:

    Wonderful post! You really spoke to what is on my heart right now. I enjoy photography and have toyed with the idea of one day being a pro, but I’ve decided that for the next several years I just want to be a really good MWAC taking awesome pictures of her kids and their life.

  14. 14
    Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing. I can so relate and was a needed reminder for me! Appreciate it!!

  15. 15
    Amanda Zika says:

    I am amazed at how much we have all grown the few years we have been online photo friends :) I love your work and you are an inspiration to all photogs out there. Great article :)

  16. 16
    Sarah Raanan says:

    wow, this posting totally spoke to me, it’s amazing how much I identified with that, feeling very choked up. Thank you for being so honest..

  17. 17
    Sari says:

    Beautifully written post and so very true. It really is easy to get lost in the photography. I’ve done it myself. Thanks for the reminder to keep capturing those imperfect moments with our own families.

  18. 18

    ahhh… just perfect. thank you so much. this was some incredible advice that came at just the right moment. beautiful.

  19. 19
    Alexa says:

    Gorgeous post. Love it. :)

  20. 20
    Christina says:

    Said perfectly, Gail! So proud to call you my friend!

  21. 21
    Lori M. says:

    Excellent post! I so needed to read that today!

  22. 22
    Linda / Seattle says:

    WOW……that post really hit home……thank you for the reminder…..

  23. 23
    Debbie says:

    Thank you Gail. You gave us words to live by! This article has given me a lump in my throat! I’m soooooo guilty of the very things you mention in here! But I’ve been guilty of that all of my life. I’ve just recently lost someone very close to me, and I’ve realized that in all the picture taking, my children will not have many photos of me with them because I’ve always told them, “You don’t need me in the photo, you know I’ve been here because I’m always the one behind the camera.” This is such an injustice to them. I’m going to start including myself whether I like it or not, because my kids deserve to have the memories.
    Thank You for such an eye opening lesson!

  24. 24

    [...] How to Become a Professional Photographer [...]

  25. 25
    donna good says:

    what a great post. made me think….

  26. 26
    Vanessa Day says:

    I feel like my story is very much akin to yours in regards to our journeys through photography! Thanks so much for sharing!

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Tammy says:

    Wow, powerful for me to hear. First of all, it’s almost my story to a T! Capturing the real moments of my children is why I started. I do have to step back and remember to take pictures of my sweet babies while I’m posting this, editing that, snapping whatever. I can spin out of control. And you are so right about not being in the pictures!!! I take a million and there are barely any of me! I’m working very hard to remedy that. When I’m gone, I want my kids to have pictures of me too! LOL. Thanks very much for the article. Love it. :)
    PS – photo attached is me and my hubby. No makeup, no hair fixed, hubs is in sunglasses but my kids will treasure this someday. ;)



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