One of the few photography bloggers I follow consistently online, Jim Grey, wrote recently about the hobbies he’s had over the years.
Which got me thinking about photography, my dominant hobby for seven or eight years now, and how and why it all began.
As with many things in life, looking back you can see more clearly how different and, perhaps on the surface, very unlikely and disparate threads, come together to form a natural new fusion.
If we could rewind to my early years for a moment, in my my family, there’s no great history of photographers, at least not in the previous two generations.
So growing up I had very little exposure to photography, aside from my nan being ever present at birthdays, trips and holidays with her flip up Kodak.
From my memories of how it looked and operated, the most likely candidates she used were Kodak EktraLites, like this one.
But this was snapshot photography, the recording of events and family, which was magical and hugely important in its own way, but gave me no indication of the artistic potential of photography.
In fact the only vague memory I have of looking at an artistic photograph was one my friend showed me his father made when I was maybe eight years old, of a busy city street, taken with a long exposure so it was full of light streaks.
Of course back then I had no idea about shutter speeds, so this image was utterly hypnotic and a work of sorcery.
But even so, it didn’t make enough of an impact for me to explore cameras myself for years.
These days, kids have such easy access to image making.
Our seven year old son has recently been using the golden Canon IXUS I bought last year, and our older daughter already had a similar IXUS, plus her iPod touch, with Snapseed on board for some fun processing.
When I was their age I wouldn’t have had a clue how to get into photography even if I’d wanted to, it just wasn’t on the radar of a boy who spent his waking hours riding BMX bikes, climbing trees, reading, and re-enacting Star Wars movies with his action figures.
The first time I recall buying a camera specifically was a Polaroid camera with my then partner, when I was around 23 or 24.
She was considerably older than me, and had known Polaroids the first time around. We just wanted something fun and instant (this was before mobile phones were mainstream or had decent cameras) to capture times together with, and attempt some more creative images.
I remember setting up a folder on my PowerBook called Travels With Kate, to save the photos I made.
In the meantime, an initially unrelated path in the written word was also unravelling.
At around 12 years old, I was delighted to be picked in English class to read out a poem I’d written.
Despite this early triumph, my inner poet lay pretty dormant for close to a decade after this, and around the same time I went halves on that Polaroid with my partner, I started exploring poems again.
This continued for years in some form, evolving through long streams of consciousness type writing influenced by Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation (and a fantastic online community of writers called Literary Kicks), through song lyrics (Michael Stipe from R.E.M and Morrissey were my twin figureheads), a hearty dose of Dylan Thomas, and finally through Japanese haiku.
There came a point probably around 2010 that I had a vital realisation.
What I was trying to capture in haiku form with three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, and through the tiny lens and tiny 5MP sensor of my Sony Ericsson Elm J10i2, was essentially the same – a beautiful scene, and the emotion it stirred inside me.
Beyond that point, the haiku slowed and the photography continued to increase, and in late 2011 I bought what I considered my first “proper” camera, a Nikon Coolpix P300.
These days, just about the other side of a five or six year phase of buying more cameras and lenses than I had time to use, then selling or donating the majority of them again, my purposes for making photographs are essentially the same as they were in those early days with the K800i Sony camera phone.
To get out in nature and find and capture compositions I find beautiful.
So that’s pretty much the story of how and why I got into photography.
But how about you? How and why did you get into photography?
Please share your story in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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