In one form or another, photography’s been a hobby of mine for around 15 years.
I’d used cameras before then, but not for the specific and deliberate purpose of capturing compositions that I found interesting and beautiful.
This intentional photography phase began around 2006 with my then cameraphone, a Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot K800i, though I’d dabbled a little with my previous phone, a Motorola Razr V3 a year or two previously.
From then until the present, I consider all of the following activities as part of my photography experience.
The ones I’ve enjoyed less I’ve tried to minimise, or eliminate entirely.
This is perhaps the most obvious and central activity for any photographer, and for most of the time, it’s the part I’ve tried to spend most of my time on.
Because for me this usually also involves rambling through the countryside, woodlands and old churches and churchyards, all of which I find greatly restorative, it’s naturally become an activity I’ve tried to maximise.
When I was shooting mostly film (2012-2016) I tried a flat bed CanoScan scanner to save money on processing costs.
On the upside it did allow me to digitally capture unusual film that I couldn’t get scanned commercially, like 35mm film shot with a Holga where its exposed right to the edges of the film and wider than a standard 35mm frame.
And 35mm film was considerably cheaper to purchase and have developed than the Holga’s native 120 film.
Plus it was cheaper, eventually, than having the film scanned by someone else each time.
On the downside though, scanning was fiddly, laborious, massively time consuming and I rarely achieved images as good as even a supermarket lab could get.
Plus it meant even more time hunched over a computer – something I was (and still am) doing more than enough of in my day job.
Not an effective use of my photography time at all, and an aspect I was very glad to leave behind.
My definition of editing is essentially reviewing the photographs made on any particular photowalk, and deleting those I don’t want to keep.
I generally do this in a number of sweeps, as I wrote about before.
This is rewarding in finding photographs I’m happy with and seeing them on a bigger screen than the one on the back of the camera.
Plus a part of me just loves sorting, tidying, putting things in order, and purging the unnecessary.
Once you have just the photos you think are worth keeping (and perhaps sharing – see the next point), you might want to process them in some way to make them look better, or different to how they came out.
I’ve been around the block a few (hundred) times with this one over the years, processing using Lightroom, Raw Therapee (briefly), Hipstamatic and Snapseed.
The latter two are fun and super capable with a very usable interface. Snapseed I continue to use for processing photos made with my phone too.
However, zero processing is my preference.
For b/w I have a handful of cameras with fantastic in-camera high contrast monochrome modes that give me the kind of deep inky blacks I like.
For colour I use my beloved old Pentax CCD sensor DSLRs, and mostly vintage lenses.
I love the idea that when you press the shutter button, you’re making that image permanent there and then, you’re fully committed, there’s no alteration later on (including cropping even).
These days there are three places I still share my photos.
Flickr, which I’ve been with since 2009, and remains very easy to use as a back up for my best photos, and then conveniently creates multiple size images to use elsewhere.
Like on this blog, which is the second place I share photos.
Lastly, I follow two or three forum threads on PentaxForums, and share there occasionally, again using the source photos on Flickr.
I enjoy sharing photos, and it’s satisfying when someone else likes something you made enough to comment on it.
By this I mean maintaining a collection of cameras and related equipment. It includes organising what you have, buying new stuff you (think) you need, and selling stuff you no longer use.
This area is one I’ve had a love/hate relationship with for the last eight or nine years.
Love trying new cameras. Hate the clutter of them.
Love the idea of discovering a new camera that becomes one of my very favourites. Hate the thought of having to sell all those that don’t make the grade and will sit gathering dust otherwise.
And so on.
I’m fairly at peace with this currently.
I have perhaps 10 cameras that get regular enough use to justify keeping. Plus a handful of other cameras and lenses I may get around to selling one day, but fit in a shoebox I can hide and (almost) forget about.
This is what leads to the usually unnecessary acquisition of more.
And by gear research, I don’t purely mean reading camera reviews. Many, or indeed most, of the cameras I’ve bought have been on the basis of seeing photographs made with that particular camera by someone else, and wanting a piece of the same action myself. The classic mistake of thinking it’s the camera that makes the picture, not the photographer.
This happened especially film cameras, where Christos for example can make brilliant pictures with any old film camera he comes across. And make others think they can too -that trap again!
I must have bought dozens of films cameras with the hopes of making photographs like his.
These days I do fairly little gear research as I know it leads to more cameras, which I don’t want.
It remains interesting from time to time to read and trace the evolution of certain cameras and ranges of cameras, and explore back up or down their lineage, but without needing to make any purchase at the end of it.
Reading Photography Blogs
This began for me on Flickr really, finding others whose images I liked, and enjoying how they used Flickr almost like a blog, uploading a few photos with a certain set up or of a certain theme or place, then writing it about it, and inviting comments.
I emulated this myself, before I decided on starting the independent photography blog you’re reading now, in late 2015.
I do follow some other photography blogs still, though many of my favourites from a couple of years ago have all but dried up, sadly.
Personally I think the blog format still remains fantastic for sharing images and thoughts around this hobby of ours. It’s a shame so many others don’t any longer and have moved to sites like Instagram, which I remain mystified by. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather view photographs (and have others view mine) at a size larger than an inch or two wide.
Writing And Maintaining A Photography Blog
As I said above, this started with Flickr really, posting a few photos from my latest batch, then writing about the equipment I used. This was mostly during the phase from 2012-2016 when I was heavily into film, along with dozens of different film cameras.
I decided at some point I wanted to return to a stand alone blog (I’ve had blogs in some form since around 2003 on Blogger and Tumblr), and chose WordPress as it seemed the best option for what I wanted.
My writing frequency has evolved in the past five and half years, partly through experimenting with what gives me the “best” readership and engagement, partly due to what else was happening in my life at the time, and partly in correlation to my photography interest and output.
I do still greatly enjoy having a place to call my own online, and not just a profile on Flickr or Twitter or Instagram or wherever.
One’s own blog feels more like having your own quiet place where people can come and hang out, rather than just renting a temporary stand in an infinitely huge exhibition hall where everyone is shouting and screaming for attention, in between bombarding you with ads you have zero interest (which is what social media feels like to me).
As I’ve said numerous times previously, this blog would be pretty quiet and lonely without the input from you as a reader. Which is why I’ve always strived to respond to every comment, and engage in interesting conversations with like minded people like you.
I see each post as a starting point for others to share their views and experiences, not just an opportunity to tell you about mine.
As you can see, some aspects of photography I’ve reduced, if not entirely eliminated over the years as I just don’t enjoy them (scanning film, post processing, and to a great extent buying and selling gear).
If I had to cull further I would focus mostly on shooting photographs, editing, then having this blog to share them – and the thoughts around them.
I could also pretty easily get by with just one DSLR (probably my Pentax K100D) and one compact (Ricoh GRD III or Lumix LX3) for the rest of my photography days, rather than a dozen options.
I know others see photography in different ways and, for example, enjoying the post-processing activities more than the initial capturing of the photos.
So how about you? Which faces of photography do you engage with? Which do you enjoy most? Which would you rather do less of?
As always, please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking.
Share this post with someone you think will enjoy it using the buttons below.
See what I’m up to About Now.