I love photography.
I am not a professional. I have never pretended to advertise myself as one. I always let people know up front "I'm not a professional. It's a hobby and something I love. Don't expect perfection because I can't deliver that. However I can get you some nice, good shots and save you some money. If in the end you decide they aren't quite what you want and you go pay someone else I won't be offended. I will thank you for the practice."
(Just a note... I never try to steal business from others. I typically only do shoots for close friends and family or for those who would never be able to afford a shoot from a professional. Or for people who are willing to trade some babysitting hours!)
That said... I know where I am at with my abilities. I'm pretty level headed about it. I know what I know and what I don't know and I never pretend that I know it all. Every winter I learn a few new things and then I spend the nicer months getting out and practicing those things. Next year I will learn something else.
One thing I don't focus on a whole lot though is getting that perfect pose. It's just not something that I care about. Can it make a person look better? Sure. But I also think that it takes away from the "realness" of a person. When you have to focus on standing just right and turning your head this way and twisting that way you tend to get stiff, traditional pictures and you lose the character of the person. I don't like stiff pictures. You lose relationship. You lose emotion. (At least in my experience.)
When I take pictures my goal is not to have a technically perfect picture (because I know I can't get that yet). My goal is to have a picture that shows the relationship of the people in it. I want you to see their love for each other, how they interact, what they were feeling in the moment. If it is an individual I want to be able to show their character. I want you to look at a picture and know a little bit about the person.
The technical stuff will come later. I'm not in a huge rush. Plus, I've learned that perfection isn't everything. People are asking me to take pictures for them. They want what I do. I've had numerous people tell me that they wished they new me when they got married because they preferred what I do over someone who's been in the photography business for years.
I'm off to a good start. Because that is where I am... at the start. I have had my DSLR for a year and a half and I've been teaching myself along the way... in between changing diapers and entertaining two small children and everything else that goes on in my busy life. And if I print my pictures at Walmart I have to convince them that I actually did take them and own the copyright. I've also had friends come back saying that they needed to have a permission to print form from me in order to get their pictures. So someone out there obviously thinks I am doing something right.
Either way... I like pictures that don't have perfection in the pose and the stance and the light. Some day I might like those things a little more but right now flawed is fine with me... because people are flawed. Flawed is real. Perfection is fake.
Cubic Zurconias don't have flaws. Diamonds do.
Chew on that for a while.