Ever since I was younger, the second a camera was in my hand, I never let go. I remember as a kid whenever there was an event worth while to my little brain, I would ask my mom for a disposable camera to document my experience. Summer camps, sleepovers, bake sales at school, you name it – I had a camera in my hand.
After a long time of begging and pleading, my mom purchased me my first digital camera when I was 12. My mother gave me the choice: phone or digital camera – the pick was an obvious one to me. It was a chunky blue and silver Nikon (I think). In the same way that teens these days check to make sure they have their phone before leaving the house, that was me with my camera. I documented every dance, my hangouts, various sports tournaments, and my overall day-to-day life in junior and senior high school. I was ‘that girl’ with the camera attached to my hip.
I also experimented on my own with artistic shots. I cannot promise you I was ever any good, but I can promise that I used photography and editing as an outlet for any hardships I may have been facing as a teen. Taking photos was my version of escapism. I spent hours editing on some editing website (I wish I could remember its name, was it Picnik?). I would add song lyrics into - what I though was - moody self-portraits and nature pictures I would take. I made countless ‘Best Friends For Life’ edits of me and my friends and to add numerous experiments with different filters and colors.
When I graduated high school, everyone had a cell phone, cell phone cameras got better, Instagram’s popularity blew up and I became somewhat meek when it came to my photography. Influencers popped up and professional photographers took social media platforms to another level of consumerism and popularity contests. Where was I to fit into all this with my amateur hobby and my cheap digital camera? Although I kept active posting on Facebook and uploading the odd Instagram photo of my travels and friend hangouts, I lost the confidence to post my artistic experiments online because now the space was taken up by ‘pros’. I felt maybe I would be stepping on some toes or people would assume I was pushing my art for likes, not for the love of what I was doing. Whatever ‘it’ was, I did not want to be categorized. So, I stopped for a while, up until the last few years.
I took the time to reflect on parts of my life that has brought me joy in the past that I lost connection with. Photography was the hole in my creative expression that I had been missing without really being aware of it. I missed taking self-portraits that were not selfies. I missed how ‘inaccessible’ it used to be to take a photo – when you had to take your camera out and get it set up, not a quick swipe on the phone. I missed taking photos for the fun of it because, until I seemed to get in my own way, for me it had always been about just that – fun. There was no end game, just an outlet for expression that I had the privilege to share with the world. I decided that regardless of my past assumptions or truths I had presumed about posting my art, I would try again. This time I knew it was for myself and no one else.
I have realized that for me photography is a way of self-expression for the things I cannot put into words. Through my lens, I can capture how I see the world. I find myself blink sometimes as I catch my shot as if I am capturing a mental memory to save it for a rainy day. I find joy in going over old albums of photos years later to recreate the feelings I felt at that moment, whether it be nostalgia, melancholy, contentment, or just pure happiness. I enjoy looking back at photos that I did not remember taking and creating new memories with them. I enjoy seeing a photo again and thinking “wow, did I take that?”.
Now as I post, I find beauty in sharing the places and things I love with the people I love. If you know me, I am not one to sit and have a long Facebook/text chat to catch up, I much prefer a phone call or video chat. Being able to share photos with the world sometimes is my best attempt to connect to those around me. To show friends and family all the places and activities I wish I could take them.
All my past photo experiments have paid off, as I still use the skills and lessons I taught myself to this very day. I have been able to apply the creativity honed through my interest in photography to working in the communications sector. Most importantly, that little piece of myself is 'back on the role' and my creativity will have an ever-growing outlet.
To give you an idea of my journey, here are some shots and edits I took over 10 years ago. Enjoy!