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My absolute favorite thing about being a teacher is seeing visible progress in my students. It is so rewarding to be able to compare a student’s current piece of work with a past piece of work and see how much they have improved.

The same goes for myself with my own work. I am always trying to improve in the areas of my life that I am passionate about, and in the past few years, photography has become one of those passions.

I’ve recently been spending a lot of time organizing digital files that have sat untouched on my hard drive in past years, and it has been amazing to look back and see the visible progress I’ve made in my photography skills.

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I wanted to share this set of photos not only to showcase the ways that my photography has improved in the past year alone, but also because it was such a lovely memory.

My sister was visiting Florida on her spring break last year. We woke up early and drove out to the pier at Anna Maria Island so that she could do some yoga on the beach at sunrise and I could take pictures of her. I had never really shot portrait photography before, so this was a new experience for me. Of course, Maggie is beautiful and graceful and has modeled in the past, so that made things easier.

At the time, I still didn’t even know about certain settings on my camera, I hadn’t brought my tripod to capture slightly longer exposures in the pre-sunrise dimness, I wasn’t shooting in higher-quality RAW format, and I didn’t even own Lightroom to edit my pictures! But you have to start somewhere, and this was my own starting point.

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While I know many of these images are not perfectly composed, I do like some of the details, such as the above picture in which Maggie’s arms are parallel to the angle of the water hitting the beach.

I had my own zen moment as I squatted down barefoot in the shallow water to take the next shot of Maggie facing the direction in which the sun would soon appear.

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Maggie has always been a contortionist, but it was doubly amazing to see her maneuver her agile body into these poses against a background of pretty pastel colors on the water.

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I had thought that the colors before sunrise were amazing, but the sun brought with it a beautiful glow that added to the peaceful vibe in my sister’s yoga session.

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For my final set of images, I wanted to get the silhouette of her body with the sunrise in the background, and I was so happy with how these turned out.

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We were almost ready to call it quits until I made an accidental discovery.

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After taking the above picture, I noticed the tiniest bit of a sunburst radiating from underneath Maggie’s arms. I called her over to look at the picture on my camera and asked her if she could get into one of her previous poses to see if we could make an even bigger sunburst.

I’ve taken a lot of “better” photos since that day on the beach, but this last photo remains one of my favorites. It captures a moment of magic that was shared by me and my sister, and I can also look back at it as representing the dawn of my photography career.

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I have learned so much about photography since then, and I’m excited at the thought that I will continue to see my own progress in the coming months and years. I look forward to sharing many more photos as I continue to improve!

Love, Elizabeth

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