I can tell you the story of how I became a writer a million times, but the story I struggle to find the beginning of is my affair with photography. I recently learned that the urge to photograph came from both of my parents, but mostly my mother. While she mainly photographed events of our lives, I found a couple of scene shots among the piles of photographs. That surprised me greatly.
Let's look back to the ages of eleven to thirteen, when I began to beg for cameras of my own. First it was the disposable ones. Then I got to use the family camera occasionally. It was a trial to get people to develop my film. Once my parents split, money was tight, so that was a luxury. When it did happen, I was so happy - I stared at my pictures for hours.
The things I like to photograph are people, clouds, dusk, and light. I remember one particular picture that started the need to photograph people was one I took in eighth grade of my first love. Looking back, I see that I caught the look that defines one of the stages of his personality. Sometimes I almost miss moments with my own eyes because I am busy capturing a person's essence through the lens. I could be with a person and all I want to do is photograph their every move.
That has helped me capture some pretty amazing moments that others often ask me to send them before I get into my door and sit down to look at what I've done. That should say something of my talent (especially since I practice mainly mobile photography now), but honestly, it just makes me happy to snap a shot to hold on to for myself. Maybe it's my obsessive need to preserve the good parts of a person or a moment in life, but tell that to my crew.
Now clouds...well come on. They are beautiful. Shape shifting at its finest. What would the sky be without clouds? Other than sheer beauty that I cannot describe, but certainly can capture, the most important thing about clouds is their role with manipulating light.
I have been chasing light for as long as I can remember. Light is what makes magic. It may have started way before the camera, during trips to and from the Ponderosa (the restaurant, not the place on Bonanza haha!) when I was a kid. Most of the time, we would be traveling during sunset and we would drive towards this dying light which gave birth to a slew of soft colors twisted around moving clouds. Sunsets/dusk is one of light's greatest productions. It's natural art. To this day, I have to stop to capture this stunning movement whenever I encounter it. But my love of light goes beyond that.
It's the way it hits the skin of one's hands. It's the strips of artificial light bouncing off of dark bedroom walls. It's the way shadows and objects play with light's path. With the right lighting, anything can become beautiful, even myself (but that's a whole other story!).
I thought I was a weirdo for this love of light until I read The Bridges of Madison County when I was in my early teens. The main male character, Robert Kincaid, was a photographer for National Geographic. Other than his days long affair with Francesca, what I love about the character is his theory of light and photography.
When I was fifteen, my dad gave me a beautiful SLR Film camera that I could barely function. During harder times in my family, it became an outlet when the pen was too weak. Two years later, during my senior year, I took a photography class where I learned how to develop film in a dark room - messing up tons of film along the way. I spent many afternoons walking around my neighborhood, shyly taking pictures when I saw the right light. I also spent many hours taking pictures of my first love (yes that same one referenced earlier - a whole other story!) during that time as well. My favorite place to take pictures was when I was looking out my bedroom window. Other than the fact that my mom was very overprotective at times (or I was being grounded for shenanigans with boys), I stood home to look out my window to capture the movements of sunset and how light created this mystic image of my South Ozone Park home.
Waiting for film to be developed was trying at best. I like being able to see my results instantly, which is why when I got my first digital camera around the age of 18/19, I was in my glory.
With a digital camera, I was able to capture a moment and see how well I did in a matter of seconds. My first digital camera was a Polaroid, which was about the size of a Klondike bar. With it, I discovered what we now call selfies, in addition to taking more scene shots. Being a young girl in college with a long distance boyfriend, the art of the selfie was to remind both him and myself that I was beautiful (decent looking at least). With every other semester's generous financial aid check, I managed to grab enough money, before it was handed over to my mother, to buy a better digital camera (mainly Kodak point and shoots, but most recently I have decided to try a Canon).
When I was starting to embrace myself as an artist around the age of 19/20, I started to share my photos online via Blogger and MySpace. As I became more conscience of my online presence and built myself a website, I added a photo gallery to my site. It felt like enough until I got my first mobile phone with a camera. That's when life changed.
It started with my T-Mobile Sidekick. That little device helped shaped me as an artist as much as learning more about every art medium I dabble in (we'll talk about that later). In terms of photography, being able to shoot and post became an obsession. Throughout the years, with each new phone, came the increase of photos I would take. Now with an iPhone and Instagram, I easily fill up my memory within days. Especially when a sunset is involved. If I am out with loved ones, most are tolerant of having to wait for me as I stand there and take 20 shots of the same thing, each time changing an angle, zooming in and out, using a filter or bearing focus on a certain point of the screen.
While I aspire to get a DSLR camera one day, I have made mobile photography my medium. Writing is my number one passion, but photography comes a close second. In addition to taking pictures, I also collect photographs. A folder on my computer (or even my phone) can easily hold 4000 of my own pictures and a 1000 from others.
One of my best friends is a photographer and I am in love with his work. Some of the best moments of my life in the past couple of years have been when we are out and about together and we both see the potential of a shot. You can easily find us with the cameras of our choice, taking pictures of almost the same thing. Sometimes, I just like to watch him at work. There's something about a photographer and the way he (or she) holds their camera that is sensual and intriguing.
But then again, you're talking to the girl who has been looking for her Robert Kincaid.
Or maybe, she has a little of Robert Kincaid in her.
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