How it started

I’d like to preface this first post by saying that I don’t think my photos are any more unique than the average person’s, and I have no ambition to become a professional photographer or anything like that. I’m just a dedicated learner and I hope that the process of writing and sharing in this manner will help me to reflect and organize my thoughts. And maybe someone will find value in what I share, who knows?

When I was a young child, I remember asking my mom if I could get a camera, and was surprised when she actually bought me one. I’m sure the camera was nothing special and not expensive, and to be honest I don’t even remember why I wanted a camera to begin with. I also don’t remember any of the photos I took using that camera beyond a vague memory of having it with me at the zoo. This was just my first camera, but I wouldn’t really consider that the point when I became interested in ‘photography’, which wouldn’t happen until years later.

At around 15 years old, I encountered what I considered to be incredible photos on the internet, and wished that perhaps I could make something like that. To my disappointment, when I aimed my mom’s 6 megapixel point-and-shoot camera into my back yard and took some photos, I was very disappointed with the results. Why did it just look like generic pictures of my back yard and not a magical scene like those I saw on the internet? This would have been a natural time to just give up and focus on other things, but I decided to at least try to take a few photos of different things: my pet rats, dogs, mirror selfies, etc. One day I noticed a tiny flower sticking through the fence in my back yard and decided to take a photo of it – I got the camera super close to the flower and pressed the button. When I viewed the photo on the computer, I was shocked by the detail I could see in the photo that wasn’t visible to the naked eye. Looking at the photo now, I don’t think it seems like anything special, but at that time I was very proud to have made what I thought was an interesting photo. This small victory was all it took to plant the seed that would later grow into my biggest hobby/pastime.

In the years following, I had a couple of my own point-and-shoot digital cameras (this was, of course, before everyone had a high quality camera attached to their cell phone) but I never really bothered to actually ‘study’ photography. I just enjoyed the process of recording memories, ‘freezing time’ by using a fast shutter speed, and taking up-close photos of bugs and plants.

After joining the army and finishing my two years of initial training, I bought my first DSLR (Nikon D3300) and of course a macro lens so I could continue taking up-close photos of bugs and plants like I had been doing before. This was also the time that I actually started trying to learn how to take better photos. However, I gradually started using my camera less and less after the first few months. A while later (in 2016, according to my Amazon orders history) I bought a Ricoh GRII hoping that a new camera would give me the inspiration to pick back up my hobby of taking photos (a classic mistake that many people make). I was hesitant to buy it because I thought it was very expensive for a point-and-shoot camera with a fixed lens and no zoom. Luckily, in this case it worked out according to plan; due to the small size of the camera (without sacrificing image quality), I didn’t mind carrying it around everywhere with me in my pocket or bag. This was the camera that finally got me out into the world and practicing somewhat consistently.

Four years later, in 2020, due to having not touched my Nikon ever since I got my Ricoh, I decided to get rid of all my Nikon stuff and see if a brand change could motivate me to get out there and experiment with different lenses and types of photography. I went with Fujifilm largely because of the aesthetic, small size, and glorious physical dials. Luckily, again, my faulty thought process that resulted in spending a lot of money did not lead me astray.

Over the years, I must have read close to a hundred photography books, watched countless YouTube videos, and read thousands of blog posts. I guess I’m the type of person who likes to dig into things and figure out how they work, often getting lost in theory and abstraction and sometimes forgetting that the reason for all the learning was to help me “do” something. I think everyone should spend time reading and studying if they want to improve their photography, but don’t neglect the actual practice. If I had spent half of my study time out shooting, I’m sure my photography skill would be much greater than it is today. Time to make up for lost time I guess!

The tiny flower sticking through my fence. 2006

4 replies to “How it started

  1. Interesting reflection on the moments that helped spark your interest in photography! I’m surprised you still have the picture of that flower.

    1. Haha luckily I had posted the photo on my ‘deviant art’ account back in 2006 and was able to download it again from there! I’m pretty sure the original file was definitely lost somewhere.

  2. Interesting story. Thanks for writing and sharing. It is great to have a passionate interest that records the history of your interests and life.

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