Why do I blog? Good question.

Up until about a year or so ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was. (Seriously, I remember being too embarrassed to ask someone, so I googled it.) Since beginning my own blog this past summer, I’ve been asked many a time by close friends, what are you doing? What’s a blog? What’s the point? What’s a Hat Head?

While I’ve had a blog running in my head for years (what other people refer to as voices) for me the main point of blogging is a creative outlet. Mainly for photography. And not because I’m this great photographer that wants everyone to admire my beautiful work. But because I want to be a great photographer. I’ve yet to officially call myself a photographer. When people ask I say it’s a hobby. I’m an amateur at best with a lot to learn. A lot.

As you know, incredible photography can be found all over the web. I’m inspired and amazed on a daily basis by what’s out there. It definitely keeps me pushing myself to learn more.

Before beginning this site I had taken a gazillion pictures of my children and every flower, plant and bug in our yard.

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I got bored and my kids started to groan every time I grabbed the camera. Soon I found myself going weeks at a time without taking a picture and knew I could either drop my hobby or move forward.

I realized I needed a purpose. Something to drive me on. I had random, creative ideas flowing of how to use my photography. I even entered an art show. But everything cost money and was dictated by what others thought or required. Then it hit me.

Why not create my own content? My own purpose. My own reasons to take more pictures? The “putting myself out there” for the whole world to see would be an obstacle to overcome. But knowing that other people would be watching would keep me going and ensure that I would do my best. What better way to improve my skills? And if only three people saw it and gave feedback, then that would be three more people than before.

Now each time I pull my camera out, I have a goal, a reason, a purpose. The kids still moan until they realize they’re not the target – although I manage to snag a few pictures of them every now and then.

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Since venturing into the world of blogging, I’ve taken an array of photos that most likely I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise.

For example my new tennis shoes…

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The guts of an old piano…

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Some real cutie pies…

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Mountains…

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And a bunch of food.

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And let me tell ya, when you’re taking photos of food like black bean dip and hummus which look like… well, not pretty, and you’re trying to make it look appetizing, you learn something.

I think with each photo, each click of the shutter, whether conscious or subconscious, I learn a little more, gain a new skill and tuck it away as a lesson. My goal is to be able to look back in 10 years, and say “Wow, Amy, you were really stinkin’ it up. Look how much you’ve improved.”

Since beginning She Wears Many Hats, I’ve had many emails inquiring about photography equipment and tips. I’m always a little surprised and think I must really be fooling some people. Let me repeat before going any further… I am an amateur. I’m not an expert. I have a great deal to learn.

With that said, here’s my take…

• I shoot with a basic Nikon D50 that’s almost five years old. It’s no longer made. (Upgrading to a Nikon D300 is my hope in the near future. We can all hope can’t we?) And primarily I use my favorite lens, a Nikkor 50mm 1.4. I have a few others but they’re pretty cheap and can hardly stand to use them after the 50mm 1.4. As far as lenses go, I think you need to know what subject you’re more prone to take before gearing up with stuff that’s not applicable to what you’ll need. BUT the 50mm 1.4 (or 1.8) is a great lens that I think everyone should have in their bag. Just my humble, unknowing opinion though.

• Read your camera’s manual. Yeah, fun I know but how else are you gonna learn the ins and outs of your camera? And don’t forget to pack it when traveling.

• If you’re a beginner or have never had a photography class, get a good book on photography to read. A good photography book will go hand in hand with your camera’s manual. Here’s a good one that I own myself and have given as a gift, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. There are many great photography books out there, this is just one I personally own. It’s basic and a real good primer for beginners or as a refresher. And it has pictures!

• Know your camera. (And you first have to read your manual to know your camera.) Push your camera to it’s limits. Even if you have a point and shoot, take it off of auto, if that’s an option, and learn how to shoot manually.

• Learn the basic principles of photography. Expensive equipment may help with clarity and crispness but no equipment can compensate for bad composition. Learn to look through the lens and frame your picture through the lens. Here’s another good book on the topic by the same author, Bryan Peterson, Learning to See Creatively.

• Take lots of pictures. Lots. And lots. Every day. Lots. Just like any other talent or gift you have to use it to improve and grow. So make a goal to take a picture every day. That’s the only way you’re gonna get the feel of your camera or that new lens. If you’re taking pictures of that latest recipe to post or Aunt Judy’s goats, take more than you think you need. Try different angles, different settings, until you get the gist of your camera. That’s the beauty of digital photography, you don’t waste film so there’s no excuse not to experiment.

Oh, well that’s my 2¢ on photography. Hope it helps.

And while photography was the main reason for me starting this blog, had I known I would have made so many great new friends – such sweet, sweet people from all over – I would’ve started long ago. It’s really been a blast.

And now I’ll end on my little soapbox for the day…

Whether a blog, writing, gardening, painting, music…whatever your gifts and passions are, don’t wait until everything is neatly arranged and perfect or you feel you’re at an expert level at which you should be before putting yourself out there. Share your gifts today. Make time to pursue your passion. Our gifts were not given to us to wait until a later date to use, or to only use when perfected. Don’t let them go to waste.

So, tell me, why do you blog? Or why do you do what you do? Are you using your gifts and talents every day?

Have a wonderfully fantabulous day!