I know nothing about photography. I did a little at college but all that messing around with putting the film in the camera, mixing the developing and fixing chemicals, using the enlarger, and that depressing red light in the dark room. It really didn’t do it for me. And of course there was the getting the subject in focus thing, and the getting the contrast right thing, and the aperture thing, and the shutter speed thing – for me it was an all far too many things to be bothered with kind of thing.
Anyway photography wasn’t art! And I was there to study art.
It stayed that way with me for almost thirty years I’m afraid and as a result I have no photographs of all the places I’ve been – New York, Barbados, Paris, Slough, Edinburgh, Lapland, Bardsey Island… I have no pictures of the big events – first steps, day at school, fiftieth birthday, no anniversaries… I have no pictures of loved ones going about their lives, none of Tia, none of Frank, no friends, none of me.
Well, I don’t mean none at all, but not enough, and those I do have are in paper wallets stuffed inside drawers or even worse, in forgotten films or throwaway cameras still waiting to be developed. I have a few events professionally shot – our wedding day, Holly’s school photos – and some snaps that I’ve taken along the way, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a body of work. Even when digital cameras came in and photography became so much less hassle and cheaper to the point of cost free, I still didn’t really take much interest.
And then along came blogging and my world changed. It started with me taking pictures on my phone to prompt or illustrate my ramblings, but soon I bought a small digital camera with a higher pixel rate so that I could get better shots. Before long I found that I couldn’t comfortably go anywhere without a camera secreted somewhere about my personage. At times I looked like one of those sad old men that you sometimes see walking down the high street with a camera strung around… No, that is me. I am one of those sad old men.
Today I can’t stop snapping. I have a pretty good camera that does stuff. It has a good zoom, a great lens, settings to fiddle with, timers. I have tripods to stand it on, a bag to carry it in, brushes and wipes to look after it with. I even have a filter! My latest toy that I still don’t know how to use properly, but the first of many I expect.
I still know nothing about photography - I like shooting into the sun, love the slight blurriness of an out of focus image, like the effect of moving the camera as I snap happily away. They might not be great photographs in the purely photographic, sharp image, perfectly shot, clearly captured sort of way, but they work for me.
Maybe photography is art after all.