Why did I become a photographer?
In college, I was an art major and my concentration was painting. My senior year, I found myself struggling so much to get my thesis show together that panic mode started to set in: “When will I get this finished?! Is it possible for me to even do all of this?!” I wasn’t able to finish any pieces because I had no real direction. I had some ideas floating around in my head but none of them came together the way I wanted them to.
At the same time as all of this was going on, I was taking a black and white film photography class. As it happens, working in a darkroom had been a dream of mine for a long time…yet, photography wasn’t even on my radar in regards to a career. I just knew I was dying to see how photographs were developed.
I still remember the first print I ever developed; it was a photo of an old piece of wood I’d found on campus. I placed the photo paper in the developer and I was mesmerized as I watched the image slowly appear on the paper.
[The image on the print is totally crooked but it's okay! I love the memory associated with this photo!]
In that film class, photography was easy for me…but honestly, I thought it was easy for everyone because what are you doing? You’re just clicking the shutter! (I now know there’s a lot more to photography than “just clicking the shutter” ;)) I started producing work at a crazy fast pace when compared to the sloth-like pace of my painting.
I need to note here that when I say photography was easy for me I’m not trying to imply I was awesome at it. I just really enjoyed it. It wasn’t hard for me to find motivation or inspiration to do my assignments. With painting, I’d just sit there waiting for an idea, and sit there and then sit some more…you get the idea.
My advisor ended up asking me why I wasn’t pursuing photography and I remember telling him it was because it was easy. I thought if it was easy then I shouldn’t do it. Let’s pause for a minute to think about how idiotic my reasoning was.
I think I remember him getting this quizzical look, or maybe it was a dumbfounded look, on his face when I said that. What he ended up saying was if it’s easy for me then I should do it! Why make things harder for yourself than they need to be! I have a habit of overcomplicating everything but, at this time in my life, I hadn’t had that realization yet. That conversation with my advisor was a turning point toward the road of realization. He introduced me to the whole “keep it simple, stupid” phrase and that phrase has since come in real handy for me!
So, I definitely switched from painting to photography and found myself loving every minute of it. Photographing my family and friends (who were my guinea pigs in those early years…and maybe they still are? haha) and then getting to develop those pictures by hand was the most fun I ever had at school. Seriously, art homework—unless we’re talking sculpture which was not fun. At. All.—was the best homework!
Nowadays, I rarely shoot with black and white film but it is a dream of mine to have my own darkroom one day! #goals
Have you had a moment of discovery like that where you found something you were really passionate about?