Throughout my childhood, I felt so grown up and special having my own camera to capture special moments with my family. I still remember my Memere assigning jobs to each of her grandchildren at one of our family reunions; I was given the important title of “Official Reunion Photographer.” She bestowed a disposable Kodak camera upon me and told me that my mission was to capture those fun “behind the scenes” pictures of candid moments. I felt so honored to be given such an important responsibility, and I still love looking through the album of my photos that she put together for me!
That tiny little 3.2 megapixel camera served me well for years, and I learned so many things about photography from our time together. It was also the camera that made me completely fall in love with photography...
One summer, when my family was staying in Hancock, MA, I ventured out to an old cemetery down the road one afternoon just to walk through and take pictures — I liked being artsy and experimenting with different perspectives any way that I could.
As I walked toward my destination, I stopped to take pictures of wildflowers along the side of the road and noticed a bee buzzing through a patch of them. I wondered… could I get a picture of it? I decided to try. I switched the dial to the macro setting and gingerly stooped lower to the ground. Slowly, slowly, slowly I moved my camera as close as I dared without disturbing the bee. Then, I held my breath, pushed down the shutter button halfway to focus, and clicked several times. The postage-stamp sized LCD screen revealed that I had gotten a decent shot, so I decided not to push my luck and continue to test the bee’s tolerance for my intrusion.
When I arrived back at the house after my little excursion, I fired up my laptop to transfer the photos from my card. I clicked through the folder one by one, noting a few favorites and sending a few to the recycling bin. When I got to the photo of the bee, though, I stopped. I’m certain I would have gasped if I wasn’t absolutely speechless. Was it possible? Could I have taken this photo?!?
I think you probably could have seen the pure joy and pride radiating from me like a 1,000 watt light bulb as I ran upstairs with my laptop to share it with my family. That moment of pride, that perfect photo that happened because I took a risk… it was the crowning achievement of my amateur photography career, and it encouraged me to continue trying new things and stretching myself creatively.
Even to this day, I still feel that same overwhelming sense of awe and pride when I look at that photo, and I honestly believe that it captures the moment that I fell head over heels in love with photography. Sometimes, when I get in a rut and feel like “If I only had X new piece of gear, then I could get Y amazing shots!” looking at that photo, taken with the most basic of cameras, reminds me that the gear alone is not what makes a photographer great. It’s how you use what you have to tell the story in front of you.
Part I - What I Learned about Photography from My First Point and Shoot Camera
Part II - What I Learned about Storytelling through Photography on My First Trip Abroad
Part III - What My Photography Journey has Taught Me about Perfectionism and Taking Risks
Part IV - The (Last) Last Day of School