While growing up, my primary creative outlet was through music. While I was reasonably talented and learned numerous instruments, it was never going to take me anywhere. My parents were quite wise when they told me, “We’ll pay for any undergrad degree except music.” Quite simply, I never had the discipline to practice for hours per day. Otherwise, though, I never thought of myself as a particularly creative person – until I found photography. (Update as of Sept. 2017: I’m now taking piano lessons again. 🙂 ) More specifically, until I took a Portrait Photography course for dentists at the Nash Institute for Advanced Dental Learning back in 2004, not too long after I bought my first real DSLR, the Canon Digital Rebel. Once I realized just how powerful digital photography was, with the ability to see results instantly, to correct photos on the computer after taking them, and to just delete all the bad ones without spending money on film or developing, I was hooked.
Photography as Creative Outlet
Even though I’d started shooting photos back in college, the costs of film and developing for a college and dental student were prohibitive. Digital photography, however, allowed me creative license like never before. Since I really started learning it as part of my dental practice, that was where I started learning the fundamentals. Through my favorite dental forum, affectionately known as DT, I met colleagues with a similar passion and began soaking up knowledge like crazy. That’s where my education in post-processing began, too; first with Photoshop Elements, eventually Photoshop CS2 (now on CS6), and with Photoshop Lightroom from all the way back in its beta testing days before the public release. And while I “cut my teeth,” as it were, on dental photography, I soon branched out and began shooting a lot more. And one day, after more than a few people had told me that I should consider selling prints, I decided to start a website for it. As it happens, it was my very first self-created website, through Smugmug: www.CDPayetPhotography.com. If you see anything you like on there, prints are available for purchase in a variety of finishes.
Digital Photography for Dentists Blog
Eventually, though, colleagues started asking me questions via email and private message, to the point that I decided to start blogging about it. That’s when I started Dental Digital Photography. It was much easier to write one blog post and share it, than to write the same thing multiple times, or even have to copy/paste the same answer. Quite frankly, if I want to really continue improving that website, however, I have to find a way to make some money off it. It takes a lot of work to put together real tutorials, especially video ones. However, it’s something I enjoy and will keep doing as time allows.
My Camera Gear
As it happens, I make very little money from my photography or blog. Kind of a bummer, but I don’t have the time or energy to truly promote it as would be necessary. So now it’s just a passion and my biggest creative outlet. Kind of an expensive outlet, since I do like my high-quality camera gear. 🙂 I was a Canon shooter for 24 years (Canon 650 film SLR, then the first Digital Rebel, followed by the 30D, the 7D, and finally the 5D Mark III), before switching to the Sony mirrorless system in 2015. The following is my current photography gear:
- Sony a7rii
- Sony 16-35mm f/4 OSS
- Sony 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
- Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
- Canon 11-24mm f/4L USM with Sigma MC-11 EOS adapter for Sony E-mount
- Manfrotto Neo-tec 458B tripod with the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead
At the moment, I’m pretty much done buying gear, as my current setup should last many years. Until I eventually upgrade to a newer Sony body. LOL
Where to Spend Time Enjoying and Learning Photography
While I’ve spent a fair amount of time on different photography forums online, I don’t currently have a favorite place to hang out and learn. I got started primarily on FredMiranda.com, a bit on Flickr, but Google+ was the place I loved most. I met some amazing people and some mindbogglingly good photographers from all over the world there; some of them, I’ve even gotten to meet in person! Now that it’s about to end (early 2019), I’m planning to import all my G+ content to this website, but I’m not sure quite where to go next. Instagram is cool, but it’s exclusively for sharing and saying, “Cool/beautiful/creative/amazing photo, kudos!” I’m definitely developing CDPayetPhotography.com into the one home base of my photography content, as it’s so easy to share from it, especially with the much-improved SmugMug iOS app. I’m back on Flickr, share sometimes to my semi-not-really-anonymous Twitter profile, and IG connects to FB.