I tend to think of myself as an amateur photographer. I don’t consider myself to be a Henri Cartier-Bresson in any way, but I think my compositions and subjects in a frame are pleasing. At least, that’s what people have told me. My family indulged my interests when I was a child, they gave me a toy camera that I would pretend to click all the flowers around me and I wandered in our garden. But as I grew older, they gave me an actual camera.
That was for my thirteenth birthday – officially a teenager, they thought to give me responsibility. This is back when photographs were taken on a roll and to print each one was expensive. This meant I was super critical of my shots and planned each one. I made a lot of mistakes and boy, what mistakes did I make. I’ve exposed the reel, I’ve experimented with layering of photos only to end up with nothing, I’ve taken lots of shots that I thought were artistic, only to find that they looked so mediocre after they were printed.
I’m sure the printer down our lane was amused at my photography attempts. But the lovely thing was that nobody discouraged me. If this is what I had a passion for, they would encourage all the way through. As with everything, it all takes time, effort and patience. There was much to learn and we had a neighbor who was into photography himself. He would patiently explain how to frame a picture, explained shutter speeds, apertures and everything about manual settings. He was old school and he believed that you needed to know the basics before trying to take a random picture.
His belief was, “Anyone can take a picture – but only a few can really capture the essence so that you feel it again years down the line.”
I do believe in those words. Technology has made so many advancements that nearly everyone I know fancies themselves to be photographers – but it’s so much more than that. There’s knowing what light would suit what occasion, there’s knowing how to capture the emotion in a person’s face without the background clutter disguising it, there’s so much more to a photograph. I guess you can tell by my words this is a topic quite close to my heart, but that is because all my life I’ve stuck to doing what I love. I’m a lot older right now, but the things I’ve learned help me become the photographer I am today.
With digital cameras, it has become easier to take a lot more until I am absolutely satisfied with my photo, and uploading some of these shots to various websites has given me good publicity. In fact, I have interns who are learning the ropes at my studio and they have posted some pictures that they’ve taken on photo sharing websites and they’ve made a little bit of money through them. It’s not much – but it’s a start, and that’s all you need.