Hand me a camera any time – and I’ll be happy

Sofie - Wooster, Ohio
Entered on January 20, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in taking good photographs. That sounds pretty simplistic, but it has been hard-earned. I have always been consumed by ambition, but have come to photography relatively late, so I’m not fostering any illusions. It has taken me into my late 20s/early 30s to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be when I grew up.

A couple of years ago, my dad, who’s never really been terribly kind to me when it came to any visually artistic output of mine, gave me a point-and-shoot digital camera. It was an eye opener. He’s a visual artist, grown up in the school of German expressionism, and, realizing his talent, he was fostered by a lot of people along the way. However, realizing his OWN talent, the others were never really worthy enough for him, including, well, the rest of the world. That included me.

He couldn’t market himself, and, rather than throwing pearls before swine, he has a traveling exhibition at his own house. Nobody sees the beautiful works he has produced. It became most painfully evident when we were at the Br-cke museum in Berlin-Dahlem a few years ago, where he is a member. I could see in his face that he knew he belonged on a wall like that. Yet, did it help him?

When I started using that little camera, I was very reluctant to show him my “stuff”. I could not explain why I had photographed it like that, what it meant. I knew little about technique, composition was improvised. Yet, I had found the one thing that made me whole. It was technical enough to satisfy one side of my brain, while the other could go nuts creatively. I started seeing the world with new eyes. My dad must have felt that the first summer when I showed him a portfolio of what I had taken.

To my great astonishment he introduced me to a fellow painter and friend, whom he regarded as a mentor, as “having stepped into his creative footsteps”. Ever since, we’ve been fostering a lively creative discussion, as equals, as artists. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about where we were just a few years back, when any comment on his art was met with disdain.

What do I want to do with this gift that I have? I have decided that my main goal needs to be to keep taking the best pictures that I can take with the equipment that I have, and to share them with others as appropriate. Yes, I have entered pictures in contests, I’ve contacted galleries. I have had modest successes, and I realize there are thousands of me out there, and most of us think we take good pictures, and a handful of us actually do. What drives me is the realization that in my eyes I’m good enough. I know I take good pictures. That’s what’s important. That’s all I need to know.