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I was inclined to photography from a young age. I remember my dad bringing a film camera home and me trying to photograph my pretty dolls or my poor dog in different poses, wasting several films in the process. One time I just wanted to know what is happening when you rolling the film after taking a shot and opened the camera halfway, completely ruining the whole film. For those who have no idea why you roll the film after taking a picture, consider yourself lucky to have not lived through such annoyance. Subsequently, I got my first point and shoot digital camera as a gift. It was a modest Benq camera, but I loved it as now I could take photos to my heart’s content without wasting money developing half-ruined films of unfocused and out of frame subjects. Several years later and I’m still at it, and with good reason. But why do I believe that everyone should try taking photos?
1. To capture memories and experiences
This is a given. Photography in itself is freezing a moment in time, therefore helps you to capture the experiences you have, being at home, in your back yard or all over the world in photos. It is alarming how unreliable human memory is, seriously look it up. Photography is a great way to remember the details of the events and experiences we lived through and relive them through images.
2. Free (relatively) and instant
I cannot imagine all the pictures of my dog and my dolls in quirky poses I would have if I didn’t need to develop photos from my pocket money when I was young. Yes, you have the expense of buying a camera and a memory card, but you can keep that to your budget with several cameras on the market, or even use your phone if that has a camera. After that, you can snap pictures all day and night without having to change a film or develop them later and without the fear that half of the images are not even in frame or in-focus!
3. To Challenge yourself
One of the things I like about photography is that it can never get boring as you never know enough. There are always things to learn and shoots to try. And you can get as deep in the theory as you like. You can stop with learning the basic function of your camera, how to manipulate light or even go into all the technical stuff related to it if you feel like it.
4. To look at the world differently.
Photography helps you to slow down and truly look around you. It helps you to actively experience your surroundings and look at life in a different way. Wherever you are, if you are looking for a photographic composition you look around you with a different eye. You learn to focus on the details when you need to or look at the bigger picture.
5. It’s a creative outlet
You can start by taking the usual family pictures or travel photo in front of a famous tourist attraction, but once you start to get confident with your camera these shot can quickly turn into something creative. What grabs your interest in my current environment? Any unusual shapes or colours? What forms can I capture if I zoom in or look at my subject from a different angle? How can I manipulate my subject to make it look more interesting?
6. To capture feelings
It is fascinating how you can portray emotion through a picture without uttering a single word. That is another beauty of photography. Be it joy, sadness, anger or a celebration, the viewer will get a glimpse of the atmosphere at the time it was shot. It is like a window in time and space to a moment the photographer experienced, and felt the need to mark it in memory and then share it with the world. A clear example of these is old photos, specifically those taken by journalists in war. If you never went down the rabbit hole of looking at beautiful vintage photos, I invite you to look up journalist photos of Vietnam war or have a look at some of the images here or here.
7. To use a mechanical piece of art
If you have a modest point and shoot or an expensive machine, you cannot deny the mechanical marvel that is a camera. I’m a sucker for technology, and that is one more thing I like about photography; having the privilege to work with marvellous machines and learning to manipulate it to get the best results. You may not be a technology enthusiast like me, but I bet you can still appreciate the technology behind a camera and the powerful feeling it gives you when you learn even the basics of how to use it.
8. It has no language
You can take a photo of anything anywhere in the world and it will provoke a reaction by all those who see it. The feeling or narrative of an image is universal. Away from language, a photograph can portray any feeling and captures a frozen moment in time worth more than words. Or maybe an interesting image of shape and colour that everyone can appreciate or criticise because it is understood, even if in a different manner to which the photographer intended. It can be praised or criticised because it instils emotion in the person beyond any foreign language can do.
Do you have a habit of taking photos wherever you go? What do you usually like to photograph?