I found myself sharing this story with a couple of other photographers a little while back and the more I think on it, the more I feel I should share it here too.
I’ve always enjoyed photography, as a child I had my first camera at the age of 14. Purely black & white photos – couldn’t afford coloured film back then. And my images had a lot wrong with them. But that didn’t stop me – it was the fun of experimenting. In my teens, my photography idol was Steve Parish – I’m sure many of you would have seen that image of him in water, bare-chested, with a beard, camera on tripod, focusing on his subject. He did amazing imagery back then and still does today.
Anyway, getting back to my photography, some of my early photos back in the 70s. Third row down is my beloved grandmother who got me into gardening. The other photos show my sisters, extended family (playing cricket), a friend’s horse named Moonshadow, my dog Soxie, and two of our cats, Shelley and Pixie. One of my sisters more grown up in the bottom pic with the puppy and a friend of mine in the tree. So a bit of improvement even just during that period.
Fast forward several years, and I am married with my first child. The camera had been set aside due to work, love, other things and it just didn’t get used. I had recently upgraded to a Pentax SLR 35mm and played with that, doing baby photos, holiday snaps, family photos, etc, etc. But again, didn’t do much seriously with it.
I really would have loved to go to college and study photography but my family weren’t in a financial position to send me, nor was I able to either. But that was life then and accepted. There was no photography in high schools as there is today. With family needs, more babies, kids growing up, school, and then me back at work, the camera only got picked up during holiday time, when we were going out as a family somewhere. Still family snaps mainly. The camera had been upgraded but still not used a lot.
In 2008 our family went through a personal tragedy. It was a difficult time for all. My birthday was during that time, but not celebrated as such, purely because of what we were going through at the time. No room for celebration, or joy. We were in the depths of despair, sadness, a dark place really.
In December of that year my husband began thinking on other things and knew I needed a better camera. He’d been doing mountain biking for a few years but the little Kodak digital I had wasn’t up to panning and doing fast shots. Add to that, I’d been invited to speak at a conference in Canada for June 2009 – the thought of having a better camera was quite appealing. He did some research and bought me a Nikon D90 for Christmas and from that moment on, it was like I’d been taken to another place, a better place. I would go out with my new camera and see the world around me, for what seemed like the very first time. I would notice insects, plants, flowers, trees, bushes, birds, wildlife, the sky, clouds, everything really. It snapped me out of the depression I was experiencing, depression because of grief and gave me something else to do and think on. It took me away from my computer and my work, and gave me permission to go outside and enjoy things again.
While we were in Canada the following year I took over 4,000 photos in a 4 week period – my photography began to improve considerably and the camera became my constant companion. Some images from that trip.
Of course, over time, gardens, birds, bees, and nature all became my passion for photography. While anything and everything else can make ideal topics, this is where my love in photography lies. My previous post ‘Getting More Joy from Your Garden Through Photography‘ explains about how I got started on that.
Photography became my healer – from stress, from grief, from depression, from all things that would pull me down. In sharing this with other photographers I found the same thing had happened for others, e.g. a lost partner, a divorce, a shift to a new area and, therefore, loss of old friends, or other things. I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling. Not only that, I found it was better for my health too. Going out into the fresh air, getting vitamin D, walking a lot more often and so on. I love any excuse to go out for a walk – not just around our own 2 acre property, but at local parks and lakes, public gardens and places further afield. It doesn’t take much to prompt me to grab my camera and go.
So while photography can urge you to constantly get better, provides fantastic challenges (like that perfect BIF (bird-in-flight) shot, and so on), it is also good for getting you out of yourself and whatever the life challenge is that you’re experiencing. You don’t have to become a professional photographer – all you have to do is enjoy it. And if you have a group of buddies you can do this with, even better, but if not, seek out a local photography club – there are many around. Or start one up in your own region. And you’re never too old for this – it’s something for both young and old, and those in between.