I have always wanted to take good photos. I nagged my parents for a camera from when I was about five or six years old. I still remember the first one I owned – it was a kiddie friendly point-and-shoot film jobbie that was shaped like a clown’s face. It’s the only clown I can ever remember having an affinity with (I don’t quite suffer from full-blown coulrophobia – a phobia of clowns – but let’s just say I am not a fan).
From then on, I snapped away, handing my poor mother one roll of film after another for processing. I think the clown camera conveniently broke at some point, but I then started buying those throwaway cameras with my pocket money instead.
In high school, I asked for a decent camera of my own for my birthday and was gifted a beautiful little Olympus compact camera. I took it with me when I did an exchange programme in Australia, and despite dropping the thing in Sydney and damaging its auto focus, I just kept snapping. This resulted in a full album of blurry images and an ensuing game of “guess who’s in this picture”.
For my 21st birthday, my uncle, Dave Esmonde-White, who was then an amateur photographer (he’s recently turned pro), granted my wish and paid for me to do a basic photography course at the Cape Town School of Photography. He also gave me his old Ricoh SLR film camera. I remain grateful for both of these things.
It was my first SLR (single lens reflex) camera and it opened up a new world to me. I finally started to learn how to control the camera to get the image I wanted from my head on to the film. I remember the magical feeling of picking up my processed images and flipping through them and occasionally finding that almost perfect shot. It’s something I will always miss about film.
Then I finished my degree, got married the week after I graduated and started working as a junior copy writer. Like many newlyweds, my husband and I were living mainly on love and Salticrax, so getting photos developed was a luxury I couldn’t really afford at that point. I got a little Canon digital compact camera and mainly took weekend snapshots that stayed on my computer and never got printed.
In 2010, again for a birthday, my wonderful parents gifted me my first digital SLR – a Nikon D3000. Since then, I’ve done a few courses at the College of Digital Photography here in Johannesburg, and tried to improve my photography skills. I’ve bought a proper tripod, a second lens and a bit of other camera equipment, and I’ve learned to occasionally get up early (I am SO not a morning person) to chase the best light.
The more I learn, however, the more I realise how little I know. I am still such a beginner! And for some reason I find it very difficult to “put my photos out there”. It feels like sharing a bit of my soul and opening it to judgment. I’m used to sharing my writing because that’s what I do every day and I have some confidence that if I wasn’t an adequate writer I wouldn’t still be eking out a living from writing. But photography is another matter entirely!
This year, when setting some goals and re-looking my dreams, I was forced to admit that I am being a bit of a wuss.
So I have taken a brave and bold step (or so I keep telling myself – it fells more like mad sometimes). I have joined Snapwire – a stock photography site that aims to “make photography human again”.
It’s been enlightening:
That’s my photo journey so far. I hope it keeps progressing. I’d like to be able to sell my feature articles with photos to boot one day. Shew… I can’t believe I am going to publish that statement. It kind of makes it real if it’s “out there”.
Well, so be it! Here’s to new adventures in painting with light!