Fowler Studios » Virginia Photo + Video

Business // Our Journey

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We get asked a lot about how we started Fowler Studios, how longs it’s been, how we built up to this point & where we’re headed, so we thought we’d share!  It’s been fun delving into those memories, but I (Susan) realized that it can’t possibly be shared all in one post!  So here’s the beginning.  Ask more questions & we’ll share more!

Almost five years ago I asked my Facebook friends something to the effect of, “What does P-S-A-M stand for on my camera?  Is it something important that I need?” I’d googled it and all, but I desperately wanted to buy a good camera, and just couldn’t figure out what I needed.  I didn’t want the easy camera– I wanted to really learn the art of photography.  I needed to get to professional looking status in order to be able to volunteer for NILMDTS, so I needed a camera that would get me there.

Yes, if you’re cringing, then you know a little something-something about your camera.  And you’re probably laughing at me.  And that’s fine by me!  I knew a lot about composing a picture but very little about controlling a camera.  The next year would be full of misadventures and taking tons of pictures of bugs, trees, and my poor dog with my Nikon D3000.  I once asked a photographer friend why my inside pictures were so blurry.  Looking back, I’m not sure why she even bothered responding to my silly email.  How annoying!

I remember learning about lighting, aperture, shutter speed, & ISO.  I thought once I got a good understanding of what they were and how to use my camera seamlessly in Manual mode, I’d be happy.  It would mean I’d arrived!  I mean, professionals shoot in Manual mode, right?  And since I was shooting in Manual mode…

But it only led to more frustration.  I have to say, I used the heck out of that D3000.  I used it absolutely to its greatest capacity.  Honestly, it’s something I’m quite proud of: I used it well beyond what most people would find it capable of.  But in the end, it had it’s limitations.  Inside I’d usually have to use a flash to get anywhere.  I’m a natural light kind of girl, so using a flash for everyday things just wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t until the end of 2011 that I got a new camera.  A Nikon D700.  I’d considered upgrading sooner to a nicer camera (since I literally had the cheapest, wimpiest DSLR on the market), but I didn’t want to upgrade until I knew it was the exact camera I wanted/needed.

In 2012 we added a D800 to our camera family, and in 2014 we added a second D800.  I know a business isn’t all about the equipment you have, but for a photographer, it’s a huge piece of it.  I have a tradition of lining up all my cameras whenever I buy a new one.  This time I almost stopped.  It seemed a bit showy & that’s when I realized… I’m really doing this thing!

For the past five years I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone and built this business from scratch.  It’s been hard work and I’ve always been cautious (sometimes too cautious) about taking a new leap.  I never want a customer to feel like they received less than they expected.  I will never forget the wedding I photographed 8 hours away, chain drinking ginger ales because I was 7 weeks pregnant and oh-so-sick.   There were times where I was second shooting a wedding and just praying that the main photographer liked my images and didn’t judge.

My point in all of this is that we all start somewhere.  If you’re the photographer who has one camera and two lenses and completely overwhelmed with the thought of trying to get as good as so-in-so, then take heart.  There were photographers whose images I used to absolutely drool over.  Recently I looked back at those same photographers.  While their images are fantastic, they totally aren’t my style.  I started out trying to be just like them, but ended up finding myself.  I found my own voice!

Have goals and dream!  But don’t forget to also make smaller goals that you can reach before you get too discouraged & quit.  I started out with the goal to shoot in Manual Mode.  Then I wanted to learn more about posing, then composition.  Then I moved on to external lighting (and found out I didn’t like it).  The list goes on and on.  I’d tackle one thing, learn everything I could, then move to the next.  To think back on all I’ve learned, it’s a bit overwhelming.  But piece by piece, it was manageable.

Hey new photographer… don’t worry.  If this is really for you, then you’ll make it where you want to go!

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  • This post makes me so happy. :) I bought my first camera (Nikon d3200) in May of this year with absolutely no knowledge of photography, so I can relate to so much of this post that it makes me laugh. :)ReplyCancel

  • scusan13

    Alexandra- I’m glad it made you laugh! Learning everything is such a wild ride, it’s good to share it with someone!ReplyCancel