What is photography for me?
It seems like every person I meet has a camera these days. Social media has put this desire in people’s lives to document, capture and share their lives through photography.
My feelings on that are indifferent.
My photography story unfolds below:
Four years ago I was calling my brother and best friend to meet me after my work shift to “be with me” as I went into the store to purchase my sweet baby Canon camera. It was the most expensive item I had ever purchased that was just for me.
Where did my desire for said camera come from?
I’m really not sure.
It just sort of “fell out of the sky”. I played with point and shoot cameras growing up. I messed around with crappy video programs, but really, writing and poetry has always been my first love–and will always be the most innate artistic part of me. But this isn’t about either of those.
Looking back now, I know my random desire to get into photography was sown into me by God.
While working for my aunt and uncle in Florida as a server, my uncle and I were chatting about this very cheap camera I came across on Craigslist. My uncle was a film photographer back in his younger years in New York (owned his own studio, what a cool cat) and what better person to be standing right there while I was looking at the ad. The memory seems so fuzzy now, but that moment stuck with me.
After that night, some weird, passionate photography dust fell on me.
I began researching cameras and brands. If I was out in public and I saw some one with a camera, I would ask them questions and seek their advice. The thoughts of a camera never stopped. Even as I waited tables at night, if a customer I waited on had a camera on their table, they were going to get railed with questions by me.
After 6 months of saving, bombarding strangers, and researching—I had enough money and knew enough to make a decision. I still hesitated for a while due to the fact that it was such a huge investment for me at the time. So glad that hesitation was overruled with curiosity.
My artist heart was bubbling over with obsession + excitement + challenge.
The first thing I ever photographed was my best friend, Hannah. A very careless photo of her sitting on my couch blown out with the flash. Four years later, she is still one of the main subjects I spend time photographing.
As I think back, I remember how terrible I was and how frustrating it was for me. I think of how I had to practice the beautiful harmony of shutter speed, aperture and exposure over and over.
I would consider myself an artist who is “all art” and creates simply by feeling–I’m not technical by nature. The biggest challenge for me was (and is) merging the mechanics of photography with the inspiration behind what I want to capture. I don’t think I actually began to master that combination until recently.
However, what was so wonderful about those beginning years was this:
I allowed myself to my bad. I accepted that it would be a long time before I would have a particular style, or be proud of what I was shooting.
I’m thankful I continued to persist through those thousands and thousands of bad batches of photos. And then eventually, bad got better, then they were okay, then they were…actually good.
I wrote this to remind myself of my humble journey. And there are SO many beautiful gifts photography has brought me (richly documented travels, new friendships, deeper passion for art, and my favorite—my husband.) Photography came into my life in a stable, sweet season. Now—fast forward 4 years, and I have gone through many major life transitions and I’ve found myself in a position where photography has not been my main focus. It’s been drifting away. And I miss it. But through its absence, I have come to understand the ebb and flow of art and life and the big dance that they are.
So, what is photography for me? Above all, it takes ideas out of my imagination and into reality.
There may be a plethora of photographers out there now. And I am just one little seed among that plethora.
Cheers to being a little seed that desires to produce a harvest.