I couldn’t describe to you what I’m interested in when it comes to photography. It’s a general question that’s asked from other photographers, and it’s totally understandable because I’m interested in what you do too, but how can I answer it when the answer is so wide open?
My reply is pretty similar to this;
Erm.. It’s kind of hard to explain. I don’t do it professionally, once upon a time I wanted to but when I realised the best way to earn a living would be weddings and advertising I was instantly switched off.. I do personal projects, about like.. actually you probably wouldn’t find it interesting, and I’m not sure what purpose they would be for, I just do them and don’t share them – at least not yet. I like a meaning behind them, but I also just like them to look pretty.. That sounds dumb, obviously they have to look somewhat good. I’d like to sell photos I think, but completely on my terms, which is very stubborn I know. I often document things, important things to me, which I assume probably means that’s my favourite form..
Erm.. and.. I don’t give a fudge about the equipment I use.
Pause… Are you still breathing?
If you are the type very interested in the equipment, just hear me out.
I’m 25, so yes my style will probably grow. I know my ideas have grown since college, aged 16-18, but even then I was never the type to be interested in the digital side of the medium. It was so clear seeing which aspect sparked up someone’s passion from the work they handed in, or how they dealt with an assignment. Like school, there were labels for what kind of photographer you were – though not a fan of labels myself. So rather a ‘geek’ or ‘popular’ there were the ones that were interested in having the best SLR, the ones who liked fashion, the ones who liked sport, the ones in it for the money, the ones to liked film, the ones who didn’t really know what they liked, and then the ones who were in the same group as me – but I still don’t know what that’s called. I knew what I liked and disliked, but I suppose the simplest way to describe it would be I liked to capture something that had some meaning to me.
Now, after years of not doing it to complete an assignment, and finding my own inspiration while still not wanting to be a professional photographer, to me photography is a very quick moment in time that I wish to capture. Obvious answer, but I literally mean that. The way my brain works, if I’m somewhere and I see a frame I want to take a photo instantly of what I see. Right. Then. I don’t want to pause and think, I don’t want to take loads of photos trying different angles, I don’t want to keep going until I have the ‘perfect’ photo. It’s not about the perfect photo. It’s a snap of the finger. It’s a flash of lightening, a jolt, something has shaken up the Earth for one second and the need in me wants to photograph that inspiration. The feeling is very quick and can disappear just as fast. It’s a feeling of elation, or hope, a spark, I see something that has stirred a feeling in me and I want to capture that very moment, not a few seconds after.
Obviously I’m not that quick, I’m not super human, it’s not a stressed out situation where I faff to get my camera out and then ‘damn, I’ve missed it!’ but instead I take the photo and move on. This is also bearing in mind that I have my ‘photography goggles’ on – I’m out with the purpose of taking photographs, it’s in my hand or close reach, and in the back of my mind I’m naturally framing everything I see so if find that spark of inspiration comes along I’m ready. I also wouldn’t take a photo if I don’t find it. This all being said, I hope you realise I’m talking about my personal photography rather than if I were taking a photo of a product or something specific where you actually have to get the ‘perfect’ shot.
I just find it so fascinating and liberating how a camera can capture how you view the world. At college everyone in my class would take a photo differently of the same object, and it’s wonderful to think this tool you have – whether it’s a crappy one or the best money can buy – can show others what you’re seeing, and you can read so much into a person because of that. Growing up wanting to be a photographer got confusing because I wanted to be the best I could be (and when I couldn’t I would give in), I wasn’t even sure what direction I wanted to go or how I wanted to frame something so I could be ‘different’ or ‘perfect’. It doesn’t have to be about perfection, that pressure can disappear, and it doesn’t have to be a competition. Just tell a story. You forget how simple it can be – you can get your own style by just being yourself.
I believe you can suck the life out of a photo so much that there’s nothing real left and there’s no meaning, and that’s a mistake I don’t like to achieve.
Now this is where my Olympus Trip comes in. I know I said I don’t care about equipment – I want to tell the story, not what I took the story on – but this amazing little camera works wonders for this style. I love it so much, I value it enormously, it has naturally become my go to camera. I got it from one of my best friends for my 17th birthday, and she bought it from a boot fair for a couple of quid – before they got popular. When we were at college together we were always experimenting with all different equipment, manly film, but we would literally just play with cameras or in the studio, and somehow our teacher allowed us to because I suppose he saw us learning even if we thought we were just playing.
Along the years I just learnt how to use this camera really well. I can choose the focus easily and quickly, and it’s usually right. I started viewing every shot I made on any camera through the eyes of my trippy, and over time whatever I hoped to come out would come out as I wanted. I was always better with film, even at college, but with Mr Trip something clicked. It was definitely trial and error though the years, don’t get me wrong even now there are dud photos, we just have learnt to morph together. What tops it off is that the colours are beautiful, if using film wasn’t so expensive I would without a doubt use it constantly – unfortunately it’s not practical enough for everyday things I need to photograph.
So when I say photography has developed into an emotional thing for me and its more about the feeling I felt at that time, this camera will win every time, hands down, in helping me capture that.
This is my long winded answer to what I’m interested in. I’ve found when I’m asked I can’t give that person the discussion about equipment that they thrive on. It seems funny to me, I don’t care what I use, I just want to get the shot. Personally, I’m not interested in the equipment, and I’m happy that I’ve found a camera I can work with so well. I haven’t found a way to say any of this quickly and that doesn’t offend or disinterest the other person, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Whether you see photography as an art form or not, we are still on the same side. Express yourself however you want.
My last shift in a photo centre is on Saturday. I’m going to miss those Charlie’s Angels. New starts brings out reflection in me.