I love photography and I love taking pictures. I continually photograph without thinking – I can take hundreds of pictures, pressing the shutter without thinking and then wonder why I took them. I have thousands of images on my hard drive and a trunk full of negatives (not to mention the amount of negs I have thrown out (I am a serious hoarder by nature). So why do I have such a strong desire to take photographs?
I’ve been taking pictures for at least 35 years and until very recently, I have just shot without thought or meaning. I had never really looked too much into gear. I was happy with my Film Nikon F301, Lumix point and shoot and Nikon D200. I wasn’t worried about ISO performance, I was just happy taking pictures.
Then things started to change, I started questioning everything: should I be shooting with a shallow depth of field; do I strive for a great bokeh effect; everyone has a camera that can shoot in low light so do I need a better camera? Then I discovered the world of camera reviews and it was almost a curse. I became obsessed with equipment then I started to blame my bad pictures on lack of decent kit.
This started a process of self discovery, who am I, why do I take pictures, what is it I don’t like about my pictures, why do some give me joy and some make me sad? There followed a period of frustration and conflict, questioning why I took pictures at all.
I suppose photography is such a big part of my life it is connected with my very existence and has formed part of my character.
Im an introvert and I realise that as much as I enjoy taking pictures, it is also a source of comfort and something I use to hide behind. I have always hated the fact that I am an introvert but recently I discovered that introverts are more hypersensitive to everything and can sometimes be overwhelmed by their surrounding.
I seem to absorb energy around me and am affected by positive and negative vibrations, so I choose to keep myself under the radar. I don’t seek fame, I don’t want to be rich (I want to be financially independent and not worry about paying my way through life, but gold is not my god). I want to do the things that I enjoy and make me happy, to wander and travel with my camera, it really doesn’t take a lot for me to find my Zen.
Im lucky that I have been self employed since I was 21, which has meant that I have not had to answer to anyone for my actions and I can pretty much do what I want and make my own decisions. For all its positives, the negatives are, if you don’t work you don’t earn and generally the hours I have had to put in are very long. But to a certain degree I feel a sense of freedom.
Photography is not my job and I am grateful that I can take pictures because I love to. No-one tells me what to photograph, I have complete freedom over what I do. I would hate to work with restraints. So if I don’t need to make money from photography why do I do it ? Im still searching for this answer but I think it helps me know myself and feeds some sort of creative need I have.
My father was an artist and I suppose being exposed to a particular environment forms the person you are and how your brain works.
My father loved art and music (www.theartofvalentino.com) so I was surrounded by these things from an early age. I started playing the piano around the age of five and would have to practice at least an hour a day. At 11 I switched to the guitar and the obsession with practice increased and continued. I love music but art is very different for me, unless you are a recording musician you have nothing to show for the hours of dedication and hard work. With art you have images to remind you of what you have done, where you have been. These images can ignite the thoughts the feelings that you were experiencing at the time you created them, its like a diary of your life.
Before my father died I took a picture of his eyes and I feel so lucky to have done so, I miss him immensely and whether it is a well taken picture or not, this picture enables me tofeel and remember him.
I can feel his soul and his presence, I know the look he would sometimes give me with disapproval. Sometimes it was a cheeky look, but most importantly it keeps the love alive and helps me feel his presence and memory and to feel how I miss and wish I could have that moment again.
Capturing the magic moment seems to be my goal. It could be a magic moment that means absolutely nothing to anyone apart from me, it doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone, the most important thing is that it meant something to me. It is my life filled with memories and special moments.
For me photography is not about technical perfection and ultra sharp images, it is more about creating an empathy, emotion and capturing a special moment in time. I have to feel a connection to my images, I guess in my search of who I am, I want to feel, I want to be emotional and connected to life.
I don’t know who I am
I suppose that search will continue and probably change but for now photography is my pursuit for happiness and trying to find that special moment that I can keep forever. I have realised that the more I think about gear, the less I think about taking photographs, I will try to listen to my instincts more and continue to develop my skills. But I will also try to concentrate on searching for that magic moment and just carry on taking pictures.