I’m jealous of those that say they found photography as a child and have been doing it ever since. I was different. Photography was black magic – aperture, shutter speed, focus, metering et al were meaningless terms for me. I didn’t think I would ever enjoy it or master it. It is an understatement to say that it was unexpected when the mists began to clear.
2005, Bashrah, Iraq. I was randomly appointed the official Squadron & Regimental photographer, given a camera and told to make an official record. As you can imagine, I had a multitude of crocodiles close to my canoe at the time – the camera nearly went AWOL a few times…
But, slowly, I began to turn out the odd image of which I was strangely proud. My attitude towards photography also began to change – disinterest to curiosity, curiosity to wonder and enthusiasm. Happily, this remains as undiminished now as it did then.
Nearly twenty later, the completely arbitrary fashion in which I was nominated to photograph my Regiment in the Arabian deserts now makes me laugh.
Imagine if photography had never happened to me? What would I be doing now?! And where?!
It is an extraordinary art form; the variation, versatility and sheer creative power is literally endless; everything can be photographed, and in a million different ways.The combination of art and science means that innate talent (or ‘your eye’) isn’t enough, but neither is simply dedication to learning technical aspects; to be a true Jedi, one must have deep understanding and balance of both art and science. Thousands and thousands of hours of practise also help!
Photography is expensive, time consuming, frustrating, and demoralising, but…
That sense of achievement, that sense of wonder and discovery, that nailing of that angle that you haven’t quite managed to date, or the surge of adrenaline when the bride appears, backlit, in the church door, or that simple satisfaction (and sometimes sheer exhilaration) of taking an epic photograph, makes every hour sitting and waiting for that kingfisher to arrive or interminable editing in a dark room on a sunny day entirely worthwhile.
I know now that I’m extraordinarily lucky to be able to pursue a creative process that I adore as my career. The work takes me anywhere and everywhere – wherever the client is – and I can live nomadically should I choose. Provided the internet connection is workable, photography is both a means of living and a reason to travel; the true definition of ‘peripatetic’.
Photography is my passport to meeting interesting people, trying exotic food, climbing mountain ranges, understanding cultures and history, or simply sailing the oceans.