When I picked up my first DSLR after my daughter was born, I never imagined that almost 8 years later it would be ruling my life. Work and play, there is a camera nearby. Barely an hour goes by when I don’t think about something to do with photography – what photo do I want to take, oh quick that moment should be a photo, looking backing over old photos, glancing at photos on the walls of my home, looking at the work of other photographers. It’s only when I sit back and reflect on how much of an influence photography has on my life do I realise how much I truly love it, and sometimes truly hate it!
It’s not all roses being a photographer. I’m sure you can agree. Besides maybe taking up horse riding for kicks, it is hands down one of the most expensive hobbies you can have. I shudder to think of the grand total of all purchases over time. Best not go there hey!
And it’s hard to get it good at it. Oh boy is it hard. How many times have you heard the old “Ohhhh wow you must have a really great camera to get photos like that.” Ah yes I really DO have a great camera. My 135mm lens is totally amazing, true, but I’d like to see you expose the perfect photo using it without any camera shake. Humph.
Of course, then there’s the times when you really, really wish you WEREN’T a photographer. Like when you get asked to bring your camera along to every single family event ever. Because you know, you should be working while you’re at your brother’s wedding. And then there’s the guilt of it, because you actually really don’t mind taking photos of his big day. Of course you don’t. But you also really don’t want to be doing it either! What to do, what to do?
Do you sometimes feel like you are only looking at life through the lens of your camera? I wonder how many moments I’ve missed over the years worrying about getting the perfect shot instead of actually living in the present.
But this isn’t an article about why being a photographer sucks.
It’s actually a story about why I LOVE being a photographer.
Yesterday was my children’s school sports day. They are 5 and 7. It’s adorable. Egg and spoon races, relays where they completely forget the baton, long jump where there is actually no jumping at all and it’s just a race to the end of the sand pit (that was his ACTUAL strategy he told me – to guarantee a WIN – good thinking buddy!)
I took along my fancy camera to the big event yesterday and spent the day behind the lens. Sometimes trying to balance recording the race in one hand with my iPhone whilst snapping some shots with my 135mm lens in the other – all while peaking over the top of the camera to actually watch the race in the real world because you know – enjoying every moment / being present / it’s not all about the photos and all that.
Then last night I sat up and edited them. I was exhausted. All day #mumlife and then home to try and catch up on work and a house that looks like squatters have moved in. But I did a quick ACR exposure adjustment on them, slapped on a saturation filter and automate-batched them down to Facebook size (the only place they’ll no doubt ever be seen). Nothing too fancy because who actually has time to edit their OWN photos right?
But while I was at it, I also edited about 40 photos of my friend’s children that I had taken on the day. And sent them off via messenger to a whole list of lovely families that I knew would love to see them. Guess what? They loved them. Of course they did! But not just loved them, they love love LOVED them. And it gave me all the happy joy joys just to know that I had made their day.
Do you remember what it was like the first time you took a photo where you blurred the background and actually got your child or pet or favourite flower in focus? I don’t know about you but for me, it was exhilarating and I’ll actually never forget it. But I think we DO forget just how powerful and emotive it can be to receive a professional photograph when you don’t do it every day for a living.
When I was shooting full time, I actually used to tell my friends that I had forgotten what a ‘normal’ photo looked like because to me – a regular photo had now become something shot at f2.5 on a $5000 machine with 30 minutes of re-touching applied to it.
I can look back now at the last 8 years and think of so many times where I have been able to use share my professional photography with others in my day to day life and know that what I gave them was truly a gift.
My niece’s 21st birthday
My cousin’s wedding
The photos of my best friend and her dog just before he headed for the rainbow bridge
Photos of my mum’s flowers in her amazing garden
Snaps of my children with their best friends on their first (and maybe only ever) camping adventure
And every single sports day for the rest of their lives – or at least until I get told that it’s no longer cool to have a mum with a huge DSLR and fancy floral camera strap chasing them around the oval. At which point I will tell them that it’s not all about them and they actually cannot stop me. Or I might just have to buy that 70-200mm lens I’ve been eyeing off for a while so I can zoom in from the grandstand instead. Ahhhh yes, there’s that expensive hobby thing I was talking about. Worth it though hey! Totally worth it.
When have you been able to give the gift of photography?
We’d love to hear your stories.