I have always loved taking photos. As a teenager when I got the “point and shoot” camera from a family friend, I would spend some of my hard earned cash on developing films. Over the years, the cameras got better and then in 2008, it became a profession. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but turning my photography hobby into a means of earning money was probably one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made (the list of mistakes is long though and the competition is fierce).
Society likes to tell us that if you are good at something and enjoy doing it, it has to somehow become profitable. Now, don’t get me wrong, of course, I am all for people loving what they do, it’s just that I don’t believe that the flip side is that all the things we enjoy doing have to become something that we have to sell to others, almost as if money is the only validation for our interests.
As for most photographers, wedding photography is the biggest earner, so I turned my focus on that. I have always loved taking portraits of my friends, so weddings seemed like a natural route to embark on. If you are a wedding photographer, let me bow in front of you, because no one really appreciates how hard this job is. I mean the taking pictures bit is the “easy” part, it’s all the rest that was not for me. I am not a people person by a long shot. As a wedding photographer, you have to 100% be a people person. You are the person the couple will spend the most time with on their special day, you have negotiate the relationships and frustrations at a glance (I am an empath, so recognising it was easy, but also draining) and make the best out of often really tricky situations. Half the wedding party will insist that they never look good in photos, whilst the other half will do their best to be in nearly all the shots. Then people get drunk and you have to deal with some people getting too touchy. I ended up really not liking weddings. But that was not the reason why I gave up on the photography business in 2013. The reason was burn out. I started to really, really hate having to take photos. This was not helped, by the fact that from the moment I made the decision to to give up, I had to shoot about loads more weddings, the most draining months. So after the last wedding was shot, edited and the album delivered to the client, I put the camera away and never picked it up again.
I never thought, I would ever pick it up again. Until a few weeks ago, when I was watching a kdrama called Encounter and Park Bo Gum has a film camera and takes black and white photos. It’s not even the major plot point of the drama, but I logged into my flickr account for the first time in 7 years and looked at the pictures I took for fun back then. And suddenly, I wanted to take pictures again. Like really, really wanting to take pictures again. It was the middle of the night and I could not sleep because all I could think about was to take pictures. The next day, I charged the digital SLR battery, cleaned my lenses. I ordered some film for my film camera. I discovered that my Holga is broken, goodness knows how that happened. But then I went out and took some pictures.
And now, I love it again. Love that I can tell little stories with images. Love the walking around and taking pictures of how I see the world and what I see in the world. I had forgotten how it feels to take photos. How happy it used to make me.
Technically, I am a bit rusty. Any skill without use will get lost, that’s just how it is. But it is coming back. And right now with that Covid and Brexit winter looming ahead of us, I think I will need those moments of taking pictures more and more.