After I had owned my DLSR for a year, I remember feeling frustrated that I wasn’t getting any better. Lightroom was a pain in the butt. I longed for the days of film. Now it’s been two years since I first got my camera – something I find extremely hard to believe. Every time I pick it up it feels like my third or fourth time. I’ve even got my first photos on this blog. I smile when I think about what I considered a big milestone back then – taking up my DLSR to Cypress Mountain for the first time, shortly after I had gotten it. Some part rational part of me said baptizing a $500 camera in wet environment was a bad idea, but I’ve since carried around with me in rainstorms and all snow conditions. I struggled hard to want to bring it along too since I was usually too tired to want to pull it out after backpacking to a destination. Yet, the extra pound or so it added inevitably ended up being a pick-me-up when something beautiful showed up and beckoned for me to capture it.
In high school photography was something I longed to get into. It was only really accessible to me via the a film photography class. So years later, when my brother generously offered to buy me a camera, I had to unbury that dream and dust it off and look at it for what it really was. A passion or just a whim? Well, I’ve been taking photos for two years now, and although I cringe at my agonizingly slow progress, the camera has consistently made it with me to all my backcountry pursuits. And it has showed me that beauty is everywhere, if I look.
But as I mentioned earlier, learning to photograph in the backcountry without any preexisting knowledge is hard. So this year, I’m hoping to do more city photography. I would like to improve at portraiture but also incorporate wild spaces in the city into my portraits. Now there’s so much more to consider than just pointing my camera at something beautiful that I want to remember – is this background distracting? Is the subject too small? Is there a subject? Is the photo capturing all the interesting things I want to capture, but in an interesting, uncomplicated and harmonious manner? Composition – this was something I didn’t comprehend at all when I started and am only starting to comprehend now. Camera settings – I’m a technophobe. But I’m learning. One thing I found out that photography, like art, is a lot like writing. The purpose of all art it seems, is to tell a story. An amazing photograph tells a story in just one still image, implying movement through frozen poses and linking seemingly unrelated objects in one frame.
My string of spending every weekend in the backcountry had been broken earlier this month due to a concussion/ I’d spent a lot of time indoors, reflecting about life, about art. At first it was impossible to think, and now it’s hard to think, but I think I’ve come to some conclusions. One is that while concussed, it was nearly impossible to “waste” any energy on anything non essential. Everything left me exhausted and I spent the majority of my days sleeping, so when I was awake, I was doing something at least somewhat meaningful and fulfilling to me, so that my days didn’t feel flat and empty. Secondly, I do like art – when words are hard to come for me, as they are now, visuals allow for creative catharsis. Sure, my photos aren’t great, but they are better – and if I continue practicing and pursuing and learning, because I love to and I need to, then they will continue to get better. And hopefully better writing will follow as I write narratives for how the photos were made and the people behind it.