There are certain years, or time periods, that stick in my mind. The year I claimed the label ‘introvert’. The year I was 17, for all the newness it brought with it. The time I taught myself the ASL alphabet. The year we decided we would go to New York for Lizzie‘s 21st, and subsequently fell in love with the city. The years when I made my lifelong friends at the theatre company I grew up in. The time I took myself away to university, decided it wasn’t the right place for me, and took myself away again at the end of the first year. The time I connected deeply with a friend I lived with for 9 months, after the fact. The times I have read a book and came away knowing myself more strongly. The time when we got a digital camera, and I ran with it.
I kept running.
I started by just playing with angles and capturing little details of the places around me. I could not get enough. It was great to be able to take a shot, review it straight away, and try it again from a different perspective. I truly fell in love with this portable, instant way of recording everything around me.
Over the years I began to read books, filling my brain with the photographic work of others. Reading, learning, and shooting. I went through a few point and shoot cameras, being as creative as I could with them. Some of my favourite photographs are those that were taken with a point and shoot.
Then, I took a big jump in 2011. I got my first DSLR. Thus started the adventure of getting to know this big hulk of a camera. I am still learning little things today. It came everywhere with me, even on days when I wasn’t planning to shoot. I started having more control over the photographs I took, playing with things like depth of field and bokeh.
I’ve wondered sometimes, about the connection between my deafness and my photography. It does help to be deaf; I am constantly watching the world around me, noticing the little details, seeing patterns… The things I see are captured through my camera.
There have been times, as an introvert, where I’ve preferred to be behind the camera. I have found refuge with a camera in my hands. I love that I am able to be in a moment…and keep it for much, much longer.
Some photographs have become slightly painful, though. There are many that I stroll past quickly, to move beyond those moments, and the people in the pictures. Yet, I can’t bring myself to delete them. These people are a part of my story, a little part of who I am. Even if we are no longer connected today, I don’t want to delete them from my visual history.
I take photographs to remember. Years from now, I will be able to look back through photographs and remember how I was feeling at different points in my life. I will see who was travelling through life with me. I will wish I could still hug some people, but it will remind me to hug the people with me now.
There are many ways to document this crazy life. I choose to photograph it, and sometimes I write about it too. Putting the photographs and words together is my favourite way of telling stories. One day, I hope to write a book, and the pages will be filled with words and photographs.
Something I touched on in my last post was that I believe everyone has a story to tell. I also believe that anyone can take a good photograph. It is all about your own, unique perspective. It’s about trusting yourself, and trusting that the way you see the world around you is worth recording. The way you see things is beautiful.
Don’t be afraid to get down on your knees to capture a shot. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Don’t be afraid of being a cliche. Just take the damn photograph.
Shoot from the heart.
Start anywhere. Start with what you have. It’s not about the camera, it’s about what you see. Most days, I shoot with my iPhone. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you get the photograph. Capture the place you live, or a small scene at home; just start telling your story.
The reason I take photographs is because something deep inside of me wants to capture all of it. There is immense visual beauty in this world, and a burning fire keeps me shooting. On the days where I haven’t taken a photograph, I feel sad that I let moments go by. I will never be able to visually return to those days.
The most simple thing you can do is find a camera – a big one, a small one, your phone, any will do – and take yourself out on a walk. A photo walk. Take it slow. Look around you. Anytime you see something you find beautiful, take a photograph of it. See something interesting? Take a photograph. See a pattern in the details? Take a photograph. See something that makes you smile? Take a photograph…and keep smiling.
I can’t promise that every photograph you take will be worth framing and putting up on your wall, but if you take enough, you will start to notice a style emerging. You will start to see that your photographs are similar in one way or another. When this happens, keep going. This is when the magic starts.
Some people like to take photographs of their pets. Some people like to take photographs of what they ate that day. Some people like to take only black and white photographs. Some people like to take selfies. Some people like to shoot landscapes and cityscapes. Some people like to document daily moments. Some people like to photograph the people around them. There is so much possibility when it comes to choosing what to take a photograph of. Just go with your heart, go with what you’re drawn to.
The reason why…is because I love this life.