Featuring photographers and the art they are creating and sharing is one of the most rewarding outcomes of my tasra365 photography project. Not only does it give a voice to other artists on their journey, but it provides invaluable inspiration and information to fellow artists along the way.
I hope you are as inspired by these stories as I am. This week, Natalyn Bradshaw shares about her beginnings as a photographer with “craptastic Polaroids” and “Instamatic images.”
I’ve always loved taking pictures.
As a teenager I took tons, and thought nothing of it. It was just to preserve a memory and nothing else. The photos didn’t necessarily look good; there were lots of “Say Cheese!” moments, and many of the photos were craptastic Polaroids (certainly not the cool artistic “Boho” polaroids of today) or fancier (read: glossy Fotomat prints) quality Kodak Disk or Instamatic images.
And I loved all of them. Adored them.
I didn’t care that I lacked “skill.” My objective was not to achieve proper lighting, get crisp details, or make sure there were catchlights in all of my friends’ eyes. It was to just capture the memory of being at a party, or at Six Flags, or at the beach. My dad was the “real” photographer. He knew how to do all of that other stuff. I just watched him when I was a little girl and marveled at all of his equipment and late nights in our den-turned-darkroom. After he died, I had his negative slides and prints, and my own craptastic and “fancier” cameras, to keep me company. I appreciated and respected his artistry, but still wasn’t the least bit upset that my talent in that arena was non-existent. I went on about my business, capturing memories with my friends.
Fast forward years later to adulthood, and my new objective was not far removed from the old one. Capture memories of my children, however I could get them. Slowly, however, I began to get a little more concerned about how my pictures came out, because they were of my children. So I was much more careful and started paying attention to things I never had before, like:
- Finding the light.
- Getting crisp details.
- Having the eyes in focus.
- Getting that weird “sparkle” in the eyes.
When I achieved that, I noticed, and marveled. My loved ones around me did too.
So, I finally broke down and saved up for something I had wanted for years: a DSLR camera. Just an entry-level, to get me started. Because I was under the impression that the camera would make my photos even better. And to me, it did. I was so happy shooting away in “Auto” and loving the results.
Then, somehow I stumbled upon Tasra’s twitter and blog and got the crazy idea that if I joined her on this 365 challenge and learned more things about my camera, my camera would take even more astonishing pictures and I would be completely amazed!
So, as I followed along, day after day, I discovered something. It wasn’t necessarily my camera that was taking the astonishing pictures that I was loving so much. Even if I didn’t always choose the right setting, I still captured a moment, a memory, that I cherished. I got the same feeling I got as a teenager. It didn’t matter to me if they were technically correct or not. I realized that even those first photos of my children with my DSLR didn’t grab me because of the technical “better-ness.” They all grabbed my heart because they were wonderful memories, captured.
I think anyone who captures moments that grab hearts consistently can be labeled a photographer.