What does photography mean to you?
What does photography mean to you?
Is it a creative outlet and a way to sate that little beast in your soul that needs it?
A way to simply make money?
A simple device to record your memories?
Or something else?
Photography is now so utterly ubiquitous it’s hard in a crowded place to see someone without a camera, let alone a camera phone. Whether it's taking a phone snap, having a head shot done or being snapped for your work pass or passport, they are now part of the firmament of modern day life.
For me, now, photography is like a Swiss army knife. It ticks boxes that I didn't know needed ticking but it wasn’t always that way. My relationship with photography went through a number of different phases.
Going back to the beginning, it was something I'd always wanted to do. I grew up pouring over magazines, album covers and all manner of print related media. I just loved portraiture, whether it was a shot of a movie star, someone going about their business or the Beatles on an album cover. And after reading about Peter Parker being a photographer, it got into my head that I really wanted a camera! I was always put off by the technical aspects of phototography. It looked so complicated and baffling! And that and doing other things had always kept me away.
Then I got talking to a guy a few years ago who showed me his DSLR. It was a Nikon D80. He showed me the kind of pictures it took on the back led screen, then explained it had an automatic button for people that didn't know how to use cameras on manual mode. I was blown away on that potential and that sold me on buying a camera there and then! I could be the duffer that just used automatic mode for the rest of their life!
I bought a Nikon D90 from a local camera shop, and it was then unceremoniously glued to my face for the next few months. Everyone I came across became my unwitting model. No pets were safe from my desire to see what the camera could do and I'd sit and mess about with it while the TV was on trying to work out iso, shutter speed and F stops. It went everywhere with me.
Then I started to see the shortfalls in my kit lens, what options weren't available by the flick of a button rather than labourioulsy having to get to them via the cameras menu and realised it was time to upgrade. I bought a Nikon D7000. I loved it! Easy access to iso, F stop shutter, settings and it was great in low light. With my confidence growing I then met loads of like minded people through social media. Subsequently I then bought strobes, tripods, card holders, etc, etc and it seemed like there was always something else I needed. Like a black filter to shoot cloud trails in broad daylight, and a grip because it made the camera feel more like a camera (it didn't). And all through it all it became about the next best picture to put up on social media. I had no idea when that had crept up on me, but I'd weirdly entered an arms race with other photographers who didn't know they were competing with me! It was at that point I'd managed to suck the joy out of photography and I was at the point of just giving it up. Getting up at 4.30 am to get into London to see what I could capture, or staying out late and just managing to get the last train home so I could shoot London at night with my tripod. It was exhausting. It was bringing me no joy. I just saw my own work badly, and every one else's work being so much better than mine.
Then my back popped. L4 & L5. What this meant was that I couldn't lug all my heavy gear about. For quite a while I couldn't use my equipment and in a very real way it felt like a relief from all of the self imposed pressure I'd piled onto myself. After a few months, I felt the pull again. The itch to be creative. To see life through a lens. My back was so painful I couldn't carry my gear so what were my options? I'd tried and failed miserably at shooting portraits previously with speed lights, but I'd have to give it a go again. I didn't have to carry my gear anywhere because I could shoot in my house! Now studying and practising studio lighting, posing and dealing with other creatives like muas and stylists was a learning curve and a half. But it was rewarding. And it totally reinvigorated my love for photography. Specifically portraiture.
And by going back to what made me want to shoot originally I can now see my camera as just a tool and photography as something that enables me to create portraits that I love.
When I'm out with my family, I take snaps on my phone. Not every shot needs a 50 megapixel sensor. And the old adage stands true.
“The best camera you have is the one you have on you “.
Below are some of my earliest of shots.