My Story (Part Two) - Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones

August 06, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

A couple of posts back I shared part of my story, how I bought a camera, very much on whim, just a series of events that all came together and ended in an unplanned purchase. I shared some of first pictures which I'm happy to admit are pretty dull and uninspiring. 

Towards the end of that post I mentioned that I enrolled with The Open College of the Arts, I knew I could get better than I was and I couldn't find any local courses that appealed so I opted for online learning instead. This was the end of 2009 so there wasn't a great deal of choice available so I jumped straight in with courses that could build up to a degree if I wished.

Anyway, this isn't really a post about photography education, its more a post about how sometimes the things we really, really don't want to do can turn out to be pretty amazing. 

When I started to study my pictures were mostly landscape related, not so much traditional rolling hills landscapes more just the everyday sights around us. I was comfortable shooting that, just being out and taking photographs gave me a lot of pleasure. The type of pictures I enjoyed to look at though always had people in them. Long before I had the slightest interest in photography I owned books of the work of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe who photographed life in and around Whitby. But it wasn't something I wanted to do myself, I didn't have the slightest interest in photographing people. 

Then I came to an exercise in my course where I needed to be at some sort of public event and take a series of candid pictures of people. I really, really did not want to do this. It didn't interest me in the slightest and it certainly didn't inspire me. So I put it off. It was an online course, no one checking up on me so it didn't matter whether I did it. So I left it, moved past it, did other work instead. But it started to bother me that I was paying a lot of money to do a course and then leaving out the bits I didn't fancy, it didn't feel right somehow so I decided to bite the bullet and find a way to do it.

After a lot of pondering I decided that I would go to a steam railway, there were always lots of trainspotters with cameras so I wasn't going to stand out like a sore thumb. My plan was to get there just before a train, spend five minutes taking the bare minimum of pictures and then I could tick the box that I'd done the exercise.

Imagine my joy when I got up on the planned morning and it was raining, the perfect excuse not to go! But I realised if I didn't go and at least take a couple of pictures I would never get over this and it was starting to become a bit of a fear.

So I did it.

And these are some of the pictures, the first time I ever photographed people (other than holiday snaps of my family, obviously!).

Ramsbottom Station Ramsbottom Station Ramsbottom Station Ramsbottom Station

They aren't fantastic pictures, but they certainly aren't terrible. I could definitely improve them if I re-edited them now but that would be pointless.

I will never forget how these pictures made me feel that day - I felt amazing, I got a warm fuzzy feeling inside, it took no time at all to forget all that dread and just become totally absorbed in what I was doing, in observing without being observed and trying to tell a story. I could have stayed all day.

From then onwards I was hooked on portrait photography and although my skills have improved massively some things haven't changed at all. I still get that happy feeling inside (the day it goes is the day I close my business) and I still want to tell a story with my images.

So the moral of the story is, if you have a thing you've been putting off, if you are a bit scared to do it because its outside your comfort zone, if you think you will hate it because it's new and different or maybe its just difficult, just do it. Give it a try. You may be right, you may hate it - but what if you are wrong and it changes your life?

 


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