I have a blog post in draft about something completely different, but right now I just need to tell you how much I love my camera, and why. And no, it’s not going to be a post about fantastic lenses or gizmos, it’s not even going to be about light, in a way it’s not really about photography. Though it kind of is.
I have days when I’m not up to communicating with people, times when I couldn’t write a post about anything, times when I want to wave to the world out there and say hi but the words won’t come. At times like those, my camera gives me a way of sharing something with the world out there, saying that yes, I’m alive and no, I haven’t locked myself away.
I have times when I have to venture outdoors even though I don’t feel up to it – because of some appointment, or having to buy things that aren’t on Amazon – and my camera helps me hide. I walk around looking and noticing stuff that most people aren’t looking at, seeing shapes and textures and colours, and not making eye contact with fellow human beings, because I’m just taking photos, I’m not really there. Even when I take photos of humans, it’s in an ambushing kind of way – because I like to shoot them au naturel, so I might stand quietly against a wall and wait for passersby, or hide in a side alley, or sit on a bench and take pics of passing legs and feet. I’m not seeing them as individual people just then, I’m seeing them as moving shapes.
It keeps surprising me, how much I’m loving this. I’ve never been a visual sort of person, and was never remotely interested in photography until I got Sam. She is my first ever digital camera, and she has opened my eyes – before, I mainly took photos of normal stuff, like family when I went on a visit home, or something unusual happening that is worth a pic. The concept of “worth a pic” is one that totally changed when I went over to digital – because there is no issue of running out of film, no waste in snapping a zillion different shots during a ten-minute walk round the block, no problem in taking a picture of a cute sign just because it’s cute, or even just something I see when I’m out and want to show my husband out of interest.
So I started discovering how much fun it can be. I gradually started to see the world around me in a way that I never did before, and now I’m seeing things that look “worth a pic” to me and feeling such a strong urge to get the camera out, feeling really frustrated if I can’t. I’m seeing stuff around me and framing it in my head. It’s crazy. I never used to be like this.
And the things that I see and notice – I know that not everyone sees it, not even when I’ve taken the photo and when it’s come out the way I meant it to, but that’s okay. Some people will see it, some will get the beauty in that wall with the paint peeling. There’ll be practical grown-ups, of course, who say: oh, that wall needs a lick of paint. That’s okay. Me and the grown-ups, we can live side by side, as long as they don’t try and stop me from playing.
I call it playing, and it is, but it has changed a bit with time. To start with, I had no expectations of myself, and so I’d share pretty much any photo without looking at it critically. I was quite adamant that I didn’t want to make an effort to learn anything, I didn’t want to turn this into something I care about, I wanted it to be just for fun.
It still is for fun, absolutely. But the fun is slightly different now. The fun is now in trying, seeing how it comes out, trying different angles or even – gasp – different camera settings sometimes! The fun is in sometimes seeing that yes! I got it! and in getting positive reactions from people, seeing people enjoy the fruits of what I’ve done. I felt so very very affirmed when my husband, who is not the sort to just say “that’s nice” to humour me (he’s perfectly capable of pointing out what’s not so good about a photo, even if it’s one I like) asked me to print out one of my photos for him to use on a greeting card.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, I started to care about my photos. It crept up on me, and at some point I noticed that I’m a lot more choosy about which photos I share online, and that I’ve started to care about the sort of reactions I get.
Of course, caring about reactions is kind of dangerous. I need to watch out and not let that get too important. But the reactions have definitely played a part in the process of me getting more… I don’t know, I don’t want to say “serious” but… more deliberate maybe? The reactions have told me: yes, you do get it right sometimes, yes, it’s worth you pushing a bit further, no, you’re not totally hopeless, yes, you sometimes produce stuff that some people like.
Not aiming super high, but… aiming. And loving it.
I often share my photos on Google Plus.
I post a small selection on WordPress.