I am just reading Dan Winter’s book “Road to Seeing”. He is one of the greatest photographers and his 700-page book about his path and career is a huge inspiration. It is definitely one of those books that will stay with me and be read over and over again.
So I thought in my first blog post I should talk about my road to photography: how I found my passion for this craft.
Looking back, I realise I have always loved photographs. My dad was collecting hundreds and hundreds of books, and I was always drawn to those that had photographs in it. Not that I was too lazy to read, but I just liked looking at compelling images. Another reason for that strong interest might have been that I grew up without a TV, so photographs were pretty much the only medium feeding my visual interest. Also my dad was shooting slide film at the time and every New Years Eve we would get the projector and screen to look through family photos from the past years. It was always exciting to see those memories on a big screen.
So in 1993 at the age of 14, when our arts teacher offered a short photography course after school I jumped on it. I can’t remember much, but we learned some basics about exposure and slr-cameras, went out and about with just a simple point and shoot camera loaded with black and white film and then developed them in the darkroom. I found some of those photos again and got them scanned.
Unfortunately after a few months the course was over and because of a lack of interest of other students it was discontinued. Neither my parents nor I knew anybody who was a professional or amateur photographer, where I could have stayed in touch with the craft; and the Internet was not yet available to me as a source of information and inspiration.
So life went on without photography. I finished school, studied building engineering and management, but quit after a couple of years, realising it was the wrong choice for me. Seen as the next best reasonable choice I started studying business economics. This time I had to see it through, quitting was not an option. Towards the end of my studies I realised though, that, still being a student with no responsibilities, I had a great opportunity to go travelling. I decided to go to South East Asia, did some volunteering in Thailand and was backpacking through Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. And that’s where I found my passion for photography again!
Backpacking alone, “just” with my little Canon Ixus II, the one which was almost the exact size of a cigarette pack, made me not just snap memories, I actually started spending time looking for interesting photos. I didn’t have many options with that tiny camera, but it was a challenge I really enjoyed, I was experimenting, trying different angles, different exposures, e.g. silhouettes, longer shutter speeds etc. Some of my favourite images to date are still from back then, but of course also because they remind me personally of the great experiences I had with these cultures and people. It is also a great reminder, that it is not all about the camera and gear, when my wish list gets longer and longer ;-)
After my travels I still had to finish my degree, but now I was looking forward to get myself a camera as a reward for my hard work. In my free time I started reading photography blogs and books and watched a lot of tutorials, thanks to the Internet and so many photographers out there sharing their knowledge and experience about the craft. When I eventually got my degree and was looking for “business jobs” I very soon realised I don’t want photography just to be my hobby or side project, it is what I want to do full time.
So here I am, starting the long journey on my “Road to Seeing”, looking up to Dan Winters and all the other great photographers, past and present, who I want to follow on this road. Thanks to all of them for sharing their passion, experience and knowledge with all of us.