WordPress’ Daily Post has started a new series of posts about photography. They ask the question “what does photography mean for you?”
My internet friend Gail Kav’s response to the question prompted me to think about what it means to me, too.
I have always been interested in photography – the freezing of a moment in time, taking my first shots with my mother’s Brownie box camera. I’ve gone through a number of cameras, being necessarily miserly over the number of photos I took because of the high costs of film purchase and higher development costs; I was never sufficiently interested to learn how to develop my own photos. I always took my camera on holiday and recorded life-important events but disliked taking photos of people, preferring to concentrate on landscapes. However, as I get older with a not-always-very-reliable-memory, I wish I had taken more photos of my family, my husband and friends.
My father is still a keen photographer meticulously recording all our family holidays. Occasionally he travelled abroad on lecture tours and would return with several rolls of film of his travels. Once the film was developed into slides he would label them with place and date. We would then be treated to a slideshow, when the large plastic screen would be unrolled and hung up on the wall of the sitting room, the slide projector would emerge from its case and set to work. And we would be transported to magical places. The image that always stuck in my mind was one of the guardians in the Royal Palace complex in Bangkok. I vowed that one day I would go there and take the same photograph too.
In 1998 that dream was fulfilled when we went to Thailand for the first of many trips. My world exploded with the colours of Asia and I was hooked even more compulsively on photography. I carry a small Olympus in my handbag at all times as I never know when inspiration will strike me. I take my Canon Eos 500 on our bigger trips.
I love creating images and used to make paper collages. Digital processing opens up huge possibilities in this area. Now that my husband and I are both retired we spend much time travelling so photography and photo editing have become my main pastimes, principally because it is a portable hobby. I can collect and create images on the run as it were and then process them once we’re back at home. I am a compulsive collector and hoarder of images but admit that although it is time-consuming to make a digital creation there is a huge sense of achievement at the end. Not only with the image itself, but from the knowledge that I may have had to master using another filter or another editing process in order to produce the final image.
In 2012 I participated in the Brooklyn Museum and submitted a book of sketches and paintings. For the 2013 project I submitted a book of my altered photos. You can view both submissions here, if you are interested. This is the direction I am now actively pursuing. It is not necessarily my intention to try to sell any of them – if that happens that would be lucky indeed – but I enjoy the act of photography itself and sharing my images on my blog. People respond so much more to visual stimulation and I like to think too that they enjoy travelling vicariously with me.
Thoreau’s quote on the banner of my blog, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” sums it all up for me. Photography makes me look at the world through different eyes. When I travel now, I try to avoid the typical tourist shots but pretend that I’m making a photo documentary for the likes of National Geographic Magazine. Looking at other people’s photographs too opens another window into the world I live in.
Nobody should say that they’re hopeless at taking photos; it’s not the camera that counts but the person taking the photo. It’s a question of practice and looking at photos taken by people whose photos you admire. Ask yourself ‘what is it about this photo that makes it special to me’ and see if you can take a similar shot.