Taking photos is something I have always enjoyed. But 20 years ago, aged 17, I met my husband-to-be, Tom, and it quickly became apparent that he was much better at taking photos and certainly more interested in it than me. Within a few years of dating he was the photographer on the student paper at Oxford while I studied medicine. Of course these were the days before digital so every roll of film cost money to process unless one had access to a darkroom and I spent many of our first dates waiting for Tom to come out of the darkroom or just keeping him company while he developed photos. He was already leagues ahead of me in the world of photography and I had anatomy, physiology and a host of other topics to keep me occupied; medical school was a full-time business.
My previous mentor in all things photographic had been my father who died soon after I hooked up with Tom and I was left with no photographic focus. A few years later Tom and I moved in together and Tom decided to study photojournalism as I headed into my final year of medical school, with our bathroom being converted into a darkroom for extensive smelly lith-printing sessions. I remember his excitement on buying a Rollei, on bringing back one of the earliest digital cameras to review and finally when he realised that he was better with words than pictures and started his career in journalism first at the Guardian and then at the Economist.
Then in 2009, we went to Turkey in 2009 and something changed. I took a photo of our son, Miles and loved it. The way that photo made me feel, the way people engaged with it, the way it summed Miles up made me happy. That’s when my oldest friend had words with me again. When was I going to buy a proper camera? she asked. And she was right. Tom and I celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our first meeting and we celebrated by buying a new camera. I called it our camera, but secretly it was mine. And Tom knew it. I always deferred to his skill, but quickly learnt the basics. I started to read photography blogs and looked carefully at photos I liked, learning to look for perfect lighting, learning how to frame photos, what aperture meant and using shallow depth of field for effect.
I posted my offerings on Facebook where people could comment on what they did and didn’t like, which I found very useful. More importantly I learnt what I liked to take photos of and starting in 2010, I began a 365 project, taking at least one photo a day. I vowed to improve my photography (along with having a few jazz-singing lessons and doing a proper wine-tasting course). Here we are in May 2010 and I have taken more photos in the first few months of the year than for the previous 37 years of my life put together. I don’t claim to know everything about photography, but I am learning quickly. And most importanly I am enjoying myself. Having given myself to my work, my husband and children I can now finally do something for me. And I love it.
(Above: the photo which changed my life… Miles On The Beach In Turkey)
Kirstin (our mummy contributor from across the pond — London)