I wish I had learned about photography earlier. I don’t mean that; I knew about photography for a very long time, what I mean is I wish I had tried photography earlier. For years, I had been a member of the rambling society at university, and photographers were, sadly, seen as a hindrance, because they slowed up the hikers. A few years ago now I asked my parents if I could have a DSLR for Christmas. Quite a gift, I must say! Very generously, they obliged and bought me a canon 1000 D. To start with, I really couldn’t get my head around the complexity of it all: shutter speeds, apertures, white balance, ISO! I was very confused, and very frustrated, so it was quite some time before I really engaged with it.
I remember one day sitting with a guide about how to drive the 1000, and I took an afternoon to really try and connect with how it all worked. And something clicked! I got it! A whole world of creative possibilities had opened to me, and yet I still didn’t see it. The camera was relegated to family events, and the occasional walk in a park.
One day, my cousin and his wife came to visit, with their newborn son. While everyone was sat around chatting, I was watching the baby; he was staring intently at his mother, and when she looked at him, he smiled. I thought to myself “there’s a photo there!”, so I sat ready with the camera, framed him nicely, and waited. After about five minutes, it happened, and I got the shot! Pleased with myself I showed it to my mother, who immediately made that high pitched noise than can only be made by looking at a baby, and essentially melted. The camera got passed round, and the effect I saw that image have on everyone there was an epiphany! This photography thing was powerful!
My cousin made me promise I would email them the image, and when I did they went and got it printed, and on their wall. I was staggered! I have never considered myself talented in any creative skill, and yet something I had made was being celebrated! It was an epiphany – maybe I did have some creative talent, maybe, I could get better at it!
So that’s when I started buying books and magazines, and studying how cameras work, and really starting to practice using a camera. I wish I had started earlier, so that now I would be better than I am, but I suppose it’s not about the destination, but the journey.