I have been feeling a hinderance with the stories I’m trying to write lately. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because of my photographs. There are many locations I would love to write about but I find myself skipping over them because it’s extremely hard to find decent shots to share when going back a few years. This is not because I’m being a perfectionist but because, sshhhh….I used to take really bad pictures. I cringe when I scan through my old albums, deciding there is no way I can write a story if these horrible pictures are what I have to choose from. But the writer in me always wins out and I returned to the stories time and time again, forcing myself to look hard at what I have and in doing so I slowly began to realize that I wasn’t facing failed attempts at all. If I take a photo from today and place it next to one when I first started out I can’t help but see success in the knowledge I have gained and the skills that I have fine tuned. I do not claim to be perfect or even good enough to run with the the best photographers but I can say I’m happy with my accomplishments and it’s time I embraced them. Welcome to my Learning Curve:
Stage One: Random shots of nothing
Although I have been exploring for over a decade, the decision to take my camera along wasn’t made until just two short years ago after I returned to my favorite place only to discover that the land had been cleared. Although I can still call on my memorires, even those will fade with time and I never wanted this to happen again. So the next time I went out I brought my Point and Shoot along and as I snapped photos they fullfilled the sole purpose of creating memories, a permanent imprint which could never be erased. There was no rhyme or reason to them, no creative thought or artistic gesture….simply documenting.
Stage Two: Developing an eye
I was satisfied to have taken something away from the explore, but it wasn’t until I got home and looked through my photos that I discovered I had captured something more. Within the chaos and destruction I caught a glimpse of something I thought was so pretty and it struck me how one could capture beauty in such places. This thought stayed with me each time I went out and, although it took quite a few attemtps, I developed my eye and was thrilled with the results over time. As my pictures began to take on more of an artistic quality I began to think about photography on a more serious level. There was still so much out of order within my shots and I quickly learned that my abilities could only go as far as my camera’s so I made the decision to upgrade.
Stage 3: Learning My Settings
To be honest, when I got my Canon I hated it and wouldn’t even touch it for the first week or so. Being faced with a professional grade camera threw me off with all its options and settings. Of course I could have stuck it permanently in the Auto setting but that would defeat the purpose of having the camera. Auto is nice to have for every day picture taking but when using your creativity it can only restrict you. A brief thought to return to my old camera took hold until I thought of what I was producing. I struggled with focus, I couldn’t succeed at capturing images in low light and every sky included in my shots was completed whited out. I was frustrated and discouraged but I am not a quitter so I picked up my new camera and took advantage of the vast array of Photography Friends which surround me. From those closest to me to mere aquaintances, I listened to what each of them had to say and slowly it came together. I must admit that I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to but I am always eager to take the advice and teachings that others have to offer.
Stage 4: Pushing My Creativity
Now that I am comfortable behind the lens I love to push my creativity. I know what I see in my mind’s eye and determination helps me to attain what I am after. Am I perfect? Not even close. But have I achieved? You bet I have, and because of this fact there’s just no way I can be ashamed of what’s hiding in my albums. It’s time to embrace these images and look on with pride in myself as I see just how far I’ve come in such a short time. So I will write the stories which are begging to be told and accompany them with the products of my undeveloped skill, for everyone has to get their start from somewhere and this is where I come from. Cheers to all the horrible pictures one takes on the way to success.
(Copyright) Olivia Wolfe ~ 2013