Hello, Joysters! Is that what you call yourselves? I should know really as I am actually one of you. I have to admit this is the only blog I ever read because I have a far too short attention span for the written word (yes, at 32 I am technically a millennial by some definitions).
Anyway, let me introduce myself. My name is Pete and I live around the corner from Hannah and Luke. I’d like to think we are all good friends but you should probably confirm that with Hannah. I currently work at the University of Birmingham but I consider myself to be an aspiring professional photographer looking to make the big bucks out of the lucrative wedding photography market. (If you are planning to get married I the next year and you have an eye for a bargain I suggest you book now before I’m too busy photographing the rich and the famous of the West Midlands.)
I have actually had quite a hard time writing this post and have frequently deleted huge chunks of it and even started from scratch a couple of times. The reason for this is because I feel like a fraud. This is something a lot of people face when starting out on creative endeavours. We cannot help but compare ourselves to the people who have been hard at it for years. We imagine what they must think of our meagre efforts (if they think of them at all) and this can have the effect of paralysis as our confidence drains away.
But the fact is I am not a fraud and those who I have talked to with more experience than me have been nothing but encouraging and enthusiastic for me. This is really all in my head. That is not to say that I am up there with the greats, I still have much to learn and I am still trying to zero in on my unique style as a photographer. But when I get all my shots into Lightroom and filter out all the photos where I hadn’t quite nailed the focus or accidentally took a picture of my shoes for some reason, I am genuinely quite proud of myself. “Hey, you are NOT just some guy who bought a nice camera and started incessantly snapping at everything and everyone!” I say to myself. “You actually have quite a good eye for this stuff”.
So in this post I aim to try and tell you how I started on this journey, where I hope to go and what I learned about myself on the way.
It all started for me on my 30th birthday. I had always wanted a decent camera and had always been frustrated by the limitations of mobile phone cameras (yes, I am British BTW). So on the day of my birth I went into the Reading branch of John Lewis with my mum and sisters and we all jointly purchased a Canon 100d DSLR 18mp camera with an 18-55mm kit lens.
I was immediately in love with it. I had it on full auto for most of the first day but I loved how effortless it was to just press the shiny black tactile button and capture a moment in time. I must have taken a thousand pictures in the first couple of days of pretty much everything in my mum’s house. Candles, kitchen utensils, my increasingly aggravated sisters. Literally anything.
When I got back home to Birmingham I started looking into other lenses I could get and watching countless YouTube review videos for them. Very quickly I started to feel like I knew what I was talking about, at least with the technical side of photography. F-stops, focal lengths and lens aberrations etc. I decided I wanted a wide angle lens, the canon 10-18mm EFS. It wasn’t ‘too expensive and I was looking forward to getting creative with wide angles. In hindsight I kind of regret getting this one first as I really don’t use it that much anymore and I think I would have been much better served getting a fast aperture prime lens for those lovely shallow depth of field blurry background shots. Get outta here portrait mode, you suck! I did eventually get the Canon 50mm f1.8 prime lens and I still love it to this day.
At this point, photography was still very much a hobby and I wondered if it would just be one of my many passing fads. I assumed my camera would be sat on a shelf gathering dust before too long. But then something happened that made me think quite differently about it.
I was in attendance of a political rally for the British politician Jeremy Corbyn if you don’t know who he is, he’s kind of like our Bernie Sanders, but he looks like Obi-Wan Kenobi. While I was there I took the opportunity to take some photos using my new telephoto lens so I could appear to get super close to the man. I then dutifully edited some of the photos and posted them to my Instagram. Several people assumed I had just taken them from the press and posted them and did not realise they were actually my photos, which made me feel pretty good (but also a bit annoyed). Upon learning they were my shots, my friend Jason told me that I should submit them to Getty images and maybe get a bit of money for them.