My first “real” camera was a gift from an uncle when I was a kid. I was about 10 years old and the camera was a 35 mm Pentax Spotmatic. It was a treasure to me. It was shiny with a wonderful 50 mm f/1.4 lens and a built-in light meter. It was the coolest thing ever and a work of art in its own right. I still have it today. Little did I know at the time, but that camera started a journey of learning that continues to this day.
One remarkable thing about photography is that it changed the way I see the world. By viewing the world through a lens, I learned to see things in a radically different way. It seemed that the visual apparatus in my brain was finally awakened by photography. And through this biological apparatus and the remarkable technology of photography, I learned to see beauty in the world. Not just the beauty of a glorious sunset, I didn’t need a camera to appreciate that, but what I’m talking about is the subtle beauty in the everyday world. It is the type of beauty you can walk by a thousand times and not notice. And one day, you point a camera at it, and you whisper, “Wow, that is beautiful...” And the thought is so subtle and deep. It is not a shout, but a whisper so profound that it grips you at your core and brings a tear to your eye. “That is beautiful…” And you feel alive and you realize the world is alive with infinite varieties of light, shadow, texture, pattern, color, and beauty. It is said that the Inuit people of northern Canada have a dozen words for subtlety different types of snow. I don’t know if that is true, but it sure makes sense to me. The same can be said for light when it comes to photography. We don’t necessarily have different words, but an astute photographer can imagine a dozen different ways that light can interact with a subject. And each different type of interaction defines a different subject. This is how photography profoundly changed the way I see: it made me a student of light! But, more importantly, it heightened my awareness of the infinite embodiments of beauty that exist in everyday life.
In addition to seeing my world differently, photography also taught me a sense of adventure. Although, I must admit that this is a kind of chicken and egg problem: I’m not sure if my sense of adventure developed as a result of photography, or vice versa. In the end, it really doesn’t matter as they both reinforce each other. Nonetheless, with my camera in tow, I’ve traveled all over the US. What an incredible gift that has been! Through my travels, I’ve learned that this country has more amazing things to see than one can fit in a single lifetime. Sadly, I’ll never see it all, but I’ll keep trying to get in as much as I can with the time I’m given. I have also taken my camera to different areas of the world where I’ve been exposed to cultures and places that I had previously only read about in books. Traveling to cultures with different traditions, foods, and lifestyles really makes you appreciate what you have, and this is the greatest gift that my adventures have brought me!
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