It took me many years and a journey of more than 4000 miles to accept that, as a non-artist, I could nevertheless think of myself as creative. I have never been able to draw or paint – stick men with large feet and spiky hair are as good as it gets – and I mistakenly believed that artistic merit and creativity were one and the same. I feel a bit of an idiot admitting that in public, but I am also convinced that I am not the only person to have felt that way. I cannot single out a moment when the light suddenly dawned but do know that it was the people of the l’Arche community in Calgary who showed me that I was thinking too narrowly, that creativity did not belong solely to the artistically gifted and that there was something creative in me that I should explore.
Thinking back, I have had a camera since I was quite young – I remember my old disc camera and then graduating to film – but it was a chance remark by a friend that made me wonder whether this photography thing might be worth looking into a little more closely. I signed up for a class whilst I lived in Canada, only to discover that the write-up in the brochure had been misleading and the course was actually for those who had a digital SLR. Two of us sat there with our compacts, stubbornly determined that we were going to get something out of this. And who knows, maybe we did.
In 2008, my family bought me my first DSLR for my birthday – a Canon EOS 400D. I loved it, loved the weight of it around my neck, loved heading off to one of my favourite haunts to snap away. But of course I had no understanding of aperture or shutter speed and never, ever strayed away from the automatic modes. I told people that I wanted to take another class, one that I could really benefit from this time, but there were obstacles in the way, shift work at first and then my own lack of confidence. Still, I looked regularly at the Kent Adult Education website and noticed a class that might just be the one. I popped back often until, just before Christmas 2012, the site suddenly announced that there were only two spaces remaining. On impulse, I snapped up one of those places.
As it turns out, it was absolutely the right decision. I finished the ten sessions with a basic understanding of some of the technical terms I had heard bandied around, with an ability to use my camera on manual and, perhaps even more importantly, a determination to keep learning and exploring and improving. I also discovered that it was in looking at other people’s images, and in hearing what they had to say about mine, that I learnt the most. They were moments of inspiration, challenge and encouragement.
Since then, the learning has continued, both in the classroom – with Kent Adult Education and at Morley College in London – and outside of it. Through those courses, but also through following a number of talented photographers here on WordPress, Flickr and elsewhere, by researching, reading and visiting exhibitions, I have been exposed to a varied and exciting range of images and ideas, all of which, I suspect, have influenced me in one way or another.
I started this blog in 2013 with some fairly grandiose ideas about it being a place for the exchange of images and ideas. In reality, though, it has become a way for me to document my own development as a photographer and to share my images with my friends and family and anyone else out there who might be interested. To those who have stuck with me so far – thank you – and to those who are reading for the first time – welcome and I hope you find something of interest here.