When I was a young girl, my mother took us to a community center, where we could choose from a list of free activities. My sisters went into pot throwing (my twin sister ended up minoring in ceramics), but my interest was different. There were three things I loved to do as a young girl: read books, write silly stories, and take pictures.
Lots and lots of pictures.
That summer, I studied pinhole camera techniques, and learned to love the smell, and quiet eeriness, of a darkroom. I went on to take tons of pictures with disposable cameras. We lived in San Antonio at the time, so I took picture after picture of the Riverwalk, learning to hone my skills. Was I good? Probably not. But I enjoyed the feeling I got when I would look through a lens.
In high school, I waited for the year I could take Photography. I believe I had to be a Senior to do so, and I think there were either prerequisites or hoops to hula through, but I finally got into the class. My dad gifted me with an old Nikon he had in storage, and I got to learn all of the mechanics of using a manual camera. The class afforded me the ability to play with shutter speed, aperture, and composition. During that semester, I learned to see the world in a different way–much like I do with my writing.
Many days were spent in the local park, clicking away, making minor adjustments, going into the darkroom, and developing the film to see where more adjustments were needed. My favorite pictures, though, were of people in action. If I saw some kids skateboarding, I’d ask permission to photograph them, lay on the ground, and have them jump over me. I learned to track in manual mode this way, and it’s still my favorite photography, next to photographing nature.
My Nikon followed me to college. I never took photography in college, but I did go on expeditions across the campus of LSU, and into downtown Baton Rouge (before all of the restaurants and kitschy shops took over). There I found scenic shots of the gulf, again had skateboarders laughingly jump over me while I laid on the ground, and started shooting close-up pictures of people’s faces. My twin found one picture particularly moving, and fell in loved with it. The photo was of an old man holding a multi-colored umbrella, smoking a cigar. She went on to not only paint it, but also to create a table in mosaic for one of her final art projects.
She’s told me several times since that she finds my photos “artistic.”
Even the ones I take with my cell phone!
The fact that my twin, who is a phenomenal artist, used a photo of mine for her art has always been special to me. The fact that she believes my photographs to be artistic in themselves means even more.
Film disappeared with the digital movement by the time I finished college, and life got away from me. I didn’t take as many pictures as I wished I could have, but my desire never went away. My parents bought me a digital camera for Christmas one year. When I visited New York in 2008, it died, and I bought a fancier, digital point-and-shoot camera. It wasn’t manual, but it was a Norcent, and I shot a picture of a street at neck-break speed as I crossed the road. It came out crystal clear, so I loved it for a while. My only problem came in hooking it up to my computer. I would lose the cord, or I would unplug it “the wrong way,” and the damn camera would eat my memory card, every time.
When I got divorced, I stopped using that camera, and started using cell phone cameras. Man, oh man, did I long for the day when cell phone camera technology would “catch up” to my desire to take pictures. I hated the fact that, in order to take a quality picture, I had to lug a camera around. Who wants to do that? The cell phone, however, was always on me. I had to (have to) bring it everywhere, because I’m on call 24/7 for work. So, naturally, the camera on the cell phone is always with me.
Plus, by then I had stopped taking pictures of the world, and started taking pictures of my tiny human.
That kid! He’s always been so darn photogenic, and, hello! I have always loved taking pictures. Naturally, I used him to fulfill my picture-taking desires. My biggest joke on-line, which I’ve stated several times on Facebook and Twitter, is that, even after I’ve forced myself to delete 6,000 pictures, I have 8,000 left. That holds true, today. Last week I deleted in upwards of 4,000 pictures, and, as of this post, I have 7,002 pictures on my camera.
I love photography.
My parents gifted me with a fancy little CoolPix camera that I brought with me to Italy in 2014. It was an amazingly fun camera to play with overseas. That camera could zoom like crazy! I got shots from the ground that looked like I was standing two feet away. However, like always, either the camera would eat my HD card, or it would be eaten by the computer.
After that, I gave up on owning a camera, and went back to my cell phone.
My cell phone has never eaten a picture.
Two Christmases ago, Mr. M talked about purchasing a digital camera. I told him I’d had the Norcent, and I’d had the CoolPix, and I hated them. I mean, I think they are great cameras for other people to own, but not for me. My HD cards got eaten by the cameras or the computers–yes, it was probably all user error–not to mention, they didn’t “do” what I wanted them to do. I lamented my old Nikon, and told him that I wished I had a camera that shot in manual mode, but one that also uploaded wirelessly to either my phone, or my computer. My sister’s camera did that, and I was jealous of her ability to not kill her memory cards.
What I wanted was a camera that reminded me of the feeling I got taking pictures in downtown Baton Rouge.
This past Christmas, Mr. M surprised me with that camera. It’s a Sony A6000. I have the kit lens, I have the 55-210mm zoom lens, I have a macro lens, and I have a telephoto lens. This camera has taught me, once again, to embrace my youth. I’ve started remembering what it felt like to live behind the camera lens, seeing the world in a completely different light.
I mean, not like I haven’t done that with my cell phone all along.
My cell phone is pretty awesome, too.
Even though I’ve always known I loved photography, I’ve never considered myself a photographer. I know photographers; I’m not as cool as them. For me, it’s been a hobby. It’s the artistic release I get when I cannot write, … and everyone knows how little I’ve written lately.
There’s been no time in my life for writing. In the words of Larry the Cucumber, “No es triste?”
However, recently I’ve been told by both my mother and my father, who have always encouraged my passion for writing, to start a side photography business. My standard response goes like this, “Mom! Dad! I have a full-time job, and I’m teaching part-time. Not to mention, I’m a writer!”
To which my mother tells me, “Girls don’t give up.”
How am I to argue with that?
My belief in my ability to sell myself has always been weak. Belief needs encouragement, though, and I have a team of people encouraging me to try. Therefore, I’ve decided to start small. I’ve started to set up a page on Winging It, Mom Style to promote the sale of my nature pictures, for both stock commercial sales and personal purchase. Although, I need to work the kinks out, study pricing, and probably teach myself everything about the plugin Sell Media.
It seems like a daunting task, one that will take oodles of time and research to complete–and probably a bit of money. Still, as my mother said, girls don’t quit. Not only that, but my mother has always taught me to reach for the moon. As I’ve always said, if you throw a lasso into the heavens, you might bring back a star.
With my parents’ never-ending belief in me, and their encouragement for me to try, I’ve decided to see what happens.
Wish me luck!