I know, five years doesn’t count much. Especially, how photography has evolved since then. But, it means something to me. How unsure and anxious I was when I decided to pursue photography. Not just because I knew nothing about it, but also because of sheer apprehension of pursuing an art form. Apprehension, because an art form is so unbounded. It has no limits. Simply because it roots from a deeper part of oneself. The fact that we are living lives that are governed more by machines (PCs, smartphones, et al.) than by human interaction, having a connect with one’s deeper, and hopefully, true self, is almost a miracle.
The thrill of taking up an adventure
With the advent of social media websites like Flickr, Facebook and Twitter had exposed me to amazing work done by photographers from around the world. And these people were not necessarily professional photographers, they were average (wo)men pursuing photography in their spare time, outside of their ‘professional sphere’. I read about how many of them felt liberated when they started pursuing photography. They captured frames, shared them, received critics and comments, became part of a community, and continued to improve along the way. They were willing to make mistakes, own those mistakes, and learn from them. They took pride in calling themselves as ‘enthusiasts’ or ‘hobbyists’.
‘Hobbyist’, ‘enthusiast’, these words reminded me of a friend I hadn’t paid visit to in a long time. They took me back to my childhood. I reminisced how my mother always emphasized the importance of having a ‘hobby’. Now, I also wanted to be a hobbyist or an enthusiast.
Standing at the foothill
After all the enthusiasm, all that research brought me to the point where everything looked uphill. All of a sudden, I felt overwhelmed by the journey I was excited to embark upon. Having gone through works of Steve McCurry (in reasonable detail) and other greats such as Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson etc. I realized that the road to learning will stretch farther no matter how much distance I cover.
Moreover, self-doubt questions like,
- “Do I have it in me to qualify as a photographer?”;
- “Will I be able to learn the techniques AND learn the art of composition?”;
- “Can I see things from a different perspective? If yes, will that different be good or bad?”;
- “Can I take ONE photograph that can be memorable?”,
begin to increase anxiety. Then, ‘what-if analysis’ seeps in.
- “What if I don’t have it in me?”;
- “What if I learn a bit from here and there, but the result is terrible?”;
- “What if investing in a camera is waste of money?”
- “What if I learn, but am not able to commit requisite time and energy?”
The leap of faith, literally!
The list of these questions was endless, with no convincing answers. In such times, support from family and friends emerges as the reliable force to push you over the edge (pun intended). I got my push. I remember buying a bridge camera (Fujifilm FinePix S3300) to get started with photography. I have the tool, but an anxious person needs a someone or a group of people to lead into something. Suggestion from a close friend came to join Delhi Photo Enthusiasts Guild or DPEG. It is a phenomenal group started by fellow photography enthusiasts pursuing the discipline for a very long time. DPEG changed everything for me. Their photowalks and discussion sessions helped me moved down the learning curve at a rapid pace. The commitment of the group administrators and fellow members was so encouraging that I believed in a few months’ time that, I too, can be a photographer. (If you perceive this to be an advertisement for DPEG – which it really doesn’t need, but deserves – you can! I will take pride in talking these guys up, anytime!)
So, how have I fared? I would like to believe well. But honestly, I do get a positive response to my work, especially one done in the past 1-2 years. What I find most encouraging is that when I started, I wanted to remain unrestricted by genres, which I have managed to sustain. Although, I do feel that it’s time that I pick a few themes or stories to build a body of work around.