Photo Tips

10 Stages of Growth for Photography: What Stage Do You Find Yourself In?

Me Ra Koh

I wonder if anyone can relate…

When I first started taking photos for families, I put a lot of pressure on myself to measure up to the masters. I would get my roll of film developed and if 33 of the 36 frames weren’t good enough to give the client, I felt defeated. As Julia Cameron shares in her book The Artist’s Way, “we want to be great, immediately great”. And yet, learning a new art doesn’t work this way. Not only do we need to allow ourselves room for error, but we need to encourage ourselves to be messy, make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes.

Over the years, I’ve watched my journey from being an enthusiastic mom with a camera to a professional photographer go through several stages of growth. After watching aspiring photographers mirror similar stages, I thought it would be helpful to share with you the 10 stages of growth for a portrait photographer that I’ve identified. This way you know that when your photos aren’t ALL great, comparable to the masters, you aren’t a failure. Instead you are most likely in one of the following stages. And if you don’t give up, you will grow into the next stage sooner than you realize!


This is one of my favorite photos from Egypt, and you’ll see in the article why this moment represents one of the 10 Stages for me.

These 10 stages are something that I’ve been processing with Brian and writing about in my journal for over a year.  This is my first time to share them with an audience.  If you have time today, I would love to pick your brain.  I would love to know if you identify with one of these stages and which one.  Do you feel a bit relieved in knowing this creative process is, in fact, a process?  Do you feel inspired by the next stage?  Or, do you feel boxed in by these stages…do you feel like I’ve left a stage out that needs to be represented?

But most of all, I hope you feel empowered.  We (and especially women) often expect perfection of our work prematurely.  This can be so damaging, as Defeat waits for us at the beginning and end of every day.  But what if you could see yourself in a growth cycle that is unto something beautiful, breaking through the ground, unfolding, purposeful, not in vain, and holds potential beyond what you know now?

The link to this article is on ShutterLoveOnline.  Click here to read, 10 Stages of Growth for a Portrait Photographer.



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  1. Loved this article, Me Ra!

  2. hello, my friend! just thinking about you all and wanted to give some love. geography is not an indicator of our heart! love from us to you.