So, you have a day job. Something that pays the bills. Hopefully, it’s something you love. I am lucky enough to be able to say that I do find being a teacher both suitable for me as a person and very rewarding. Communication and helping people seem to be things I am good at. Also, I wouldn’t do just any kind of teaching. I got into it in order to travel and teach abroad as well as meet people from other countries and cultures. It’s a kind of fascination with me. So that’s my main job. Photography is something you might call a part-time profession but to call it that is slightly misleading because although I make money from it, I don’t do it for the money.
So, it’s a hobby, right? Something on the side that I like to do when I am not working in my main job. Well, actually, no. It’s not a hobby and never has been. Much in the same way that music is not a hobby either and never has been. The issue is that the word ”hobby” conjures up the image of doing salsa classes every Tuesday night or collecting stamps. Something purely for fun. As fascinating as it might be to you, you have decided it has no future to ever become more than something to pass the time. You have resigned yourself to the idea that you will only go so far. It’s nothing serious. This couldn’t be farther from how I feel about photography.
Let’s go back in time. When I started it first, it was almost a hobby. I bought a little Canon bridge camera having taken pictures before that on borrowed film cameras. I always had some interest in it. With my little Canon camera, I went on photography forums and talked to others. I photographed anything and everything I saw. I learned some of the basics but it didn’t grip me at all. Put off mainly by the gear I couldn’t afford. Thinking that was what it was all about. I lost interest in it and moved on.
Quite a few years later, while living in Prague, I found myself looking for something that would get me out of the house to meet new people and form new relationships and even more importantly, would be a way I could express myself. This is no minor thing. Neither of them are, but the need to be creative is absolutely necessary for my well-being. I can’t actually live without it. I had been a composer and music was a way for me to do this but having done it academically for so long, having ruminated endlessly over style and influence, it all became stale. It also involved spending hours alone composing. A rather lonely thankless occupation. I haven’t given up on music. I play piano in my own way, my own stuff, but it is spontaneous and deeply personal. I play to myself and for myself. It is a therapy. It is quiet time. Someday I will play in front of people again I am sure but it won’t be for money or fame and it is not a great work in progress. Not some major project with clear goals. It is essentially an extension of listening and listening to music is what it is all about for me. Music is refuge. Photography, well, that’s the world.
So, photography has become my voice. It holds the key to a meaningful life. My ambition in it is greater than any ambition I have ever had. My motivation in it is stronger than any motivation I have ever had too. I am not able to give it up. It’s under my skin. If I take a break from it, it just finds its way back in and takes me over. It’s like a drug without the side effects. Or, if there are side effects, then they are the best kind.
When I rediscovered photography in Prague, I decided from the very beginning, from the first tutorial, before I had saved for my first DSLR, that I wasn’t going to do this as a hobby. I was going to take this to the highest level. Being an artistic person, coming from an artistic background, this then obviously had little or nothing to do with money and everything to do with self-realisation. The desire to better oneself through their art. To make something in the most significant sense.
It’s hard not to sound pretentious saying this but it seems the generation after me have no problem saying these kind of things so maybe I ought to join them. I kind of envy that generation for the ability to hold firmly to beliefs in their destiny and follow dreams. Not always be stifled by notions of what it means to live a ”normal life”. I am an artist. This is part of what makes me who I am. I treat photography as an art form above everything else. The love of the process and of the result. This means learning all I can about the art my own experience and the work of others, finding my voice and refining my own style, doing new and exciting creative projects, exhibitions of my work, workshops to teach others and collaborations of any kind that interest me. From the thrill of shoots to the meditation of street photography all coming together to one end.
There is nothing worse than being old and having regrets about what you didn’t do. Especially something you wanted to do, had some talent in and were so passionate about. Looking back and realising you didn’t follow your heart and the only reason was fear.
So, let me say that your company on this journey, as I continue down this magical road, is most welcome.