Beyond pixels and silver nitrate

Canada Film General Nature

If you like taking photos, did you ever ask yourself, “where will my photos take me”?

I’ve been taking pictures mainly as a hobby for a couple of years now, and this thought just crossed my mind fairly recently. At the moment I am wondering what my motivation is. I mean, I do freelance work sometime but to be perfectly honest I don’t really earn anything with those. It’s just enough cash to cover the costs. No profit whatsoever. I spend money processing my film rolls, and photography equipment never lost its space in my pay cheque. I am serious when I say this is an expensive hobby.

Then again, I’m not really taking photos to earn money. I just like taking photos. The photos are not even commercially-driven nor something that the techie photohobbyist will dig. Meaning I don’t use strobes, I don’t use a lot of flash. I don’t even know how to do HDR. I don’t do fashion photography. I have lots of friends who do photography (I refuse to call anyone, even myself, a “photographer”. I reserve that title to those who do it professionally. Anyway…) who usually rave about the newest gear or lenses or some high tech feature and if they try to mention it to me I’ll just give them a blank look and smile. Why? Because even though I have a digital SLR I don’t know what those features are for. I just fiddle around with whatever’s in there and shoot with what my eyes and gut tell me. And probably some technical stuff that I’ve learned from books and from my boyfriend which unfortunately I don’t remember as much as I wanted to.

When I get to pick up some freelance work, I do what my clients want me to do, I do what they want to see. Because I’m paid to do it, right? It does not bother me that much because I don’t do it often. Most of the time I shoot just because. I guess that’s why I use film more often.

Anyway, I’m digressing. I’ve been uploading photos on Lomography and Flickr and I am just really surprised and happy that people around the world get the chance to view my photos and actually like them. Can you imagine how images can transcend places and languages? At the same time I fleet around one gallery after another and get amazed at the vast number of photos and subjects that people take and how beautiful they interpret the surroundings that they live in. No matter how mundane some of their subjects are, the way they take their photos just tugs strings of my heart. They inspire me and that fuels that desire to shoot more.

Which brings me again to that question: where will my photos take me? While I am currently confined in one city, I know that when given a chance, I will step out and explore more places. These places will be new to me, and my cameras will help me interpret the things I will see. I wonder where these photos will bring me; I wonder how many people will like the photos I took — if they will see the same thing when they decide to go to the same place. Perhaps they will interpret it differently; after all, different people have different perspectives in life.

I think this is the reason why I am not much inclined to do a lot of digital, HDR, macro, or any style of photography that I’ve noticed that is prevalent here in North America. Instead I am drawn more towards the way how people in Asia (mostly in East Asia, like Japan, China and South Korea) take their photos. I’ve always wanted to see everyday things in a different light. I’ve always wanted to capture my life as I see it and not with some fancy-fartsy stuff. I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to film. I guess that’s why I love taking people’s photo. I guess that’s why I think I have a place in street photography. I’ve always wanted to take photographs with feelings and not photos that look really “high tech” and “cool”.

With this kind of view about this hobby (and perhaps to some, this art form), I really do hope my photographs will bring me places. I hope that I’ll be able to touch people’s hearts, make them feel, and make them realize how amazing our lives in this world are. With that kind of goal, I am surely going to work hard and strengthen my desire to learn more in order to produce results that I would love and something that people will remember.