The Defining Moment That Changed My Path In Photography

Most photographers have a defining moment in their photography life that they see it as the point of transformation.

Whether or not it's from a novice to advanced level, from an amatuer to becoming a professional or from shooting in automatic to manual mode, they finally realized their priority to enable them to succeed in what they're doing.

For me, it came many years later after I picked up my first digital camera.

inverness castle

Inverness Castle - shot with Canon Ixus 400 (SOOC)

I still remember that time when I was traveling in Scotland, I was sight-seeing in Inverness (a town in the North of Scotland). One of my itinerary was to visit the Inverness Castle.

I can never forget how Inverness Castle looked. It's partly because of its bright color. But most importantly, it's because of an interesting conversation I had with a stranger here.

It was the evening golden hour and I was shooting photos of the castle. By the way, I didn’t know golden hour was the best time to photograph with natural light. I was there at the right time by luck.

As I was minding my own business, an elderly man walked towards me. He was also taking photos of the castle with his camera.

As he approached me, he smiled at me. Then he asked what camera I was using. I told him I was using a Canon Ixus 400, which was a digital camera (digital camera was fairly new at the time). He then asked if I edit my photos in Photoshop.

For some reason, I didn’t feel that come across as a question but rather an insult to me.

You might think I was just being very dramatic, and you’re probably right!

But let me explain…

I was a beginner photographer.

Like most beginners, I bought a camera for the purpose of having fun, a hobby if you like. I brought it with me whenever I went and took photos when I felt like it. There were no thoughts on the subject or composition. I certainly didn’t edit my photos in Photoshop.

I didn’t even know what post-processing means for goodness sake!

I was embracing the culture of SOOC (straight out of camera). I despised anyone who put their photos through a computer, even if they did minimal. I thought all images should be as natural as possible without being tampered with any form of enhancement.

With that in mind. What do you think I said to that man?

Well, I didn't start an argument that's for sure!

I replied with a stern tone: “No, I don’t do that and would never do that”.

Now, that sounded pretty dramatic when I look back in time.

But the truth is, the more I think of it, the more I couldn’t help but giggle at myself.

Not only I’ve learned what post-processing means, I have a strong opinion about post-production. I feel that all images should be post-processed right out of camera.

Such an irony, right?

Several years later, I bought a DSLR and got addicted to HDR photography. From this point onwards, my photography style had been what I called brainless HDR. (Read: My story)

Basically, I bracket exposure for everything I shoot and my HDR workflow only involved merging multiple exposures HDR software.

That was it!

Can you image how my images had look like?

I literally committed many grave mistakes I explained in this article including “Not knowing when to do HDR”.

In the process of figuring out what photography means to me, I stumbled across a tutorial on the internet one day on how to create HDR by blending in parts from a set of multiple exposure manually using layer mask in Photoshop.

What really amazed me was how natural and stunning the final image looked. The technique itself has so much flexibility and potential that it can be adapted to anyone’s personal style.

By the way, this technique is called exposure blending!

And I had my mind blown away by it!!

exposure blending

One of my first images in exposure blending

This has totally changed the way I create HDR images. It felt like I was being liberated from HDR software. I no longer need to rely on it in my workflow. I learned everything I could on this subject and also experimented with it myself in Photoshop.

Exposure blending was my turning point because it had changed the way I see HDR photography. Knowing that exposure blending is the way forward for me, I’m more focused over the years and have developed my personal style that defined my work.

What Is Your Defining Moment?

Everyone has a defining moment that change their life in a significant way. Whether or not it happens in your professional career or in a hobby, you know the road ahead will never be the same ever again.

What’s your defining moment in photography?

Let’s share it in the comments below! I really like to hear it from you!

  • Yes that’s true post production is very important part of photography. Thanks for sharing your nice memory.

  • Thank you so much this is amazing and beautiful post I like it my friend good job brother.