One of the questions I get asked quite frequently is “how did you start in Photography?” It seems like the most logical question to ask someone, how they began their journey, what motivated or encouraged them to start doing what they love. For me, I always try to think back to my childhood to see where it was that linked me to being a creative person, an artist, a photographer.
I’ve always been interested in “art”. I use the term loosely because as a child, “art” typically lends itself to colouring books and creations with play-dough and lego. But even with those mediums, I loved creating. I loved drawing and making books of my own drawings and I enjoyed most of all making things out of whatever we happened to have around the house. I remember my bedroom as a kid was a treasure trove of odds and ends that I could use for making things. I was also inspired endlessly by Walt Disney and animated Disney films. We had an entire drawer full of Disney movies and when I was about 8 years old I knew that I was going to try to be an animator for Disney. Little did I know that I would actually have to be a pretty decent artist to do that, but it was all I could think of myself doing.
In all this time growing up I never really gravitated towards a camera. My mom always shot the photos in our family, books filled with road trips and christmas mornings line shelves at my parents house. But even with an avid photographer in the house I never really felt anything for it. When I was about 16 I found an old pentax and took a roll of film, mostly just some flowers and our dog and other “test subjects”. I was happy with the photos but didn’t see any future in photography for me.
In high school I tried to take as many art courses as I could, media arts being my favourite and in that class I learned how to develop my own negatives and took a roll of black and white photos that I was really quite proud of. Still though, I didn’t pick up a camera and feel anything.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to notice something. I lacked passion. I didn’t really have any hobbies or interests that I felt truly passionate about. It had been years since I had painted a picture or drawn anything more than a doodle and I didn’t really see myself doing anything with any kind of art. Then, thankfully, I stumbled across Flickr.com. I don’t exactly know how it happened but I found a group of photographers who were taking photos each day based around a certain theme and it looked like a lot of fun. I hadn’t really seen anything like it before, people collaborating online and not taking themselves too seriously about it. I joined the group and started taking photos with my rather crappy point and shoot camera. And slowly, after a few weeks of playing along with the goofy themes I started to get more excited about coming up with photo ideas. After the first couple months I bought a dslr and began to actually plan my photos out and began editing them on a free editing program. It was like I had hopped on a train, without really knowing where it was going but I was excited to be on it.
By the time I finished my first 365 project I knew that I was hooked, I enjoyed the process as a whole. I loved coming up with concepts, shooting them and editing them and sharing them with other people. I suddenly felt like a room in my mind that had been locked for so long suddenly opened up and I could see passion and hope and interest and satisfaction inside.
I’ve been thinking a lot about beginnings and my own beginning on this journey a lot lately. The proverbial train ride is picking up steam and I still don’t know the destination but I’m just as excited about the journey. And just as I’m thinking about beginnings I’m thinking about endings as well. Today was my final day at a job that I’ve had for about 6 years, working as an educational assistant within the school system supporting students with learning disabilities. . I’m about to make a jump from hobbyist photographer to full-time photographer, supporting myself with my work, my drive and my passion. It’s a little scary to leave comfortable things behind, to say goodbye to a positive working environment with stability and security and trade it in for unknown, but I also know that it’s time for me to try this route and see where it takes me.
These next few months will be a new beginning for me, one that I hope in a few years I can look back on and start a new story from.