At this early stage of my podcasting experiment, I am sure that many of the people that are listening to this episode know me and have some ideas of my photography background. For those who are not aware, about three years ago I closed the 8-10 year chapter of my life that was PhotoComment. It was a photography blog that became a digital and eventually print magazine. It was a spark that helped drive a passion for photography which started at the end of my primary school years.
How the Photo Bug Bit
I am not sure how I got interested in birding, but somehow I did. It may have been the acquisition of a pair of binoculars and the need of a reason to use them, but is was a CNA Red Band Book Sale book on birds that pushed me from birdwatching to wanting to do photography.
The book in question had pictures of birds opposed to the illustrations found in other in-depth reference books and this got me hooked. It was the closing image though of the wrong colours on a regular bird to our garden which got me thinking I could do a better job. What a mistake to think that.
My parents were supportive of my passion. My dad arranged for a visit to his older brother to try my hand at using a camera he had first before I made any rash decisions to buy something I could in no way afford.
Out of a role of film, most pics were forgettable photographically speaking, but there were two images of regular garden sparrows that stood out. These images were sharp, well lit and got me hooked.
From that day forward I was in for a bumpy ride. Gear cost a fortune, film and processing were not cheap for a school boy either. I was told to shoot what I could with the gear I could afford but somehow I got the idea that better gear would make me a better photographer.
I have had more cameras and lenses than possibly I have owned underwear in all my life. (I will share some of this with you in Throw Back Thursday episodes in the future).
The thing about my experiences is that I became a generalist in some areas. Also, because of my limited finances, I spent hours reading and rereading books and magazines, even camera manuals. I was a sponge (wish I still had that same intensity of learning today).
In some ways, I view my photography experience as an alternate reality version of the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance (which is of course about golf, another dangerous hobby).
There were highs and lows. Great camera and bad cameras. The right lenses and the wrong lenses. Too few camera bags and too many camera bags… actually you can never have too many camera bags.
Over time, however, I have found it tough to pick up a camera with the same pleasure and passion I had in the past, particularly after PhotoComment closed.
Getting Back the Passion
This evening as I was browsing through some photographs for a competition I started looking over hundreds of images I had forgotten I had taken. As I did so I got a familiar itch in my finger and twitch in my eye.
Two things occurred to me as I looked at the photos of my past.
Firstly, I have been blessed with many memories and moments through my cameras and photography. Running PhotoComment forces me to go out and shoot regularly as I reviewed camera gear, yes, but because I always had some camera with me, I have photos of pets past and boys as babes. My life has been blessed that I had time then to spend with my loved ones and could document so much of it.
Secondly, I realised that digital photography has possibly given many of us a great curse.
Every time I felt a little low, as a youth photographer, I picked up my album of images and would look at that first photo of two sparrows in my uncle’s backyard and feel the itch I felt that day, and the glorious relief of getting the images back from the lab a few days later and being surprised.
Many of these things we do not enjoy in the digital world. The suspense of waiting for prints from a lab. The reviewing of a printed work. To me at least, the easier nature or managing a library of images on film because we shot less and could more easily review our progress.
But here is my question to you. How do you keep your passion alive? What lows have you gone through creatively and how did you get back on top again?