Even though my professional journey into photography is new, I wouldn’t say my general interest in photography or wishing I could do it is new at all. I’ve had a fascination with cameras and taking pictures for as long as I can remember (as cliché as that sounds.) My parents got me this bulky, silver 35mm film camera to play around with as a little kid that I loved, and I always grabbed the disposable cameras I found in the junk drawer to snap random photos around the house. As I got older, I got a camcorder and a couple point and shoot cameras over the years that I took all over the place.
You would think that I wanted to pursue more with cameras seeing how into them I was growing up, but I never did. Writing was the “safe” option for me and my rock bottom self-confidence levels. (My brother was the first one of the two of us to get a DSLR and pursue photography more “professionally”.) So what made me decide that I finally wanted to pursue it myself? Here were the two main factors:
THE OVERALL BURNOUT WAS REAL
For most of my life, writing has been my primary creative outlet and my “therapy”. I constantly wrote poetry from elementary school on and enjoyed writing short plays after taking a play writing class in college. I’ve also been in the music journalism world on and off since spring of 2013 (more often off after my friend died in 2015). I spent practically my entire life writing, but I was burning out on it even before the last couple years. My grandfather dying in January 2021 was the nail in the coffin for my desire to write, though, at least for the meantime. Any motivation or desire I had to write fizzled or left my brain a cavernous vacancy when I would sit and attempt to write something.
My brother let me borrow his Nikon D3300 and kit lenses for a little bit in the spring, and the pure enjoyment I get from a camera started returning. Getting my own camera in August, though, could have caused my heart to explode from rejuvenation of joy. It isn’t anything fancy (a Nikon D5200 with a few lenses and filters), but I feel excited for the possibilities I can create when I have it in my hands, and I’m more open to traveling for a new adventure/new photos because of that. (It’s hard to remember the last time I felt that way when I was writing something.) Writing isn’t gone forever, but having something else to also focus on is a real refresher.
I BECAME LESS AFRAID OF TRYING NEW ACTIVITIES
Ever since childhood, I have been the type of person who prefers feeling “safe” and is only adventurous/open to new things to a certain extent. Trying anything new often scares me to the point of paralysis or quitting early on if I do attempt something new; I don’t enjoy it, but that’s how it was up until the past six months or so.
Concert photography intrigued me since I started doing music journalism almost 10 years ago and met a bunch of amazing photographer friends. The issue holding me back, however, was my lack of confidence. Even though I envied everyone doing it and would have loved to do it myself, the voices in my head beat my spirit into believing I would never be good enough to do it. I also had an interest in the cityscape photography back then, but pursuing both styles was harder without a reliable means of traveling around (not very helpful to pushing me to try).
I would have to say meeting my best friend Emmy (my co-editor for EMSU Media) at the end of 2021 was the catalyst to a mindset change. Nothing happened overnight, but Em has a pretty fearless way of going about life that rubs off on you eventually. She was the one who pushed me into finally pursuing photography and beat a pretty helpful “new to me” mentality into my skull: the worst they can say is “no”.
Being rejected and feeling like I failed is one of the most sensitive things about my personality. (You would think it got a little better being a writer and getting rejected constantly, but nope.) Needless to say, it’s held me back from a lot of opportunities throughout my life. It took a few months to put just one show request in over the summer, but getting accepted for that show proved to me that I can get cool opportunities.
I’ve gotten a few rejections since August, but I’ve somehow handled them better than I thought I would. It feels amazing to try and “fail”, which is odd. I’m so willing to learn, fail, and get back up that I am even thinking of branching out into serious 35mm film photography along with improving my digital photography. I’m planning on applying for press on a huge metal cruise later this year even knowing the chances of rejection are high.
I’m making efforts despite any fear or reservations I have, and I’m happier for it.