Monday, September 3, 2007

Photography: about 1 year on

Everyone has their personal hobbies, their own passion and interest. Have you ever realised a certain unnoticed passion hidden somewhere in the deep recesses of your heart before? Has that newfound joy changed your perspective on life? Are you going to spread this passion around?

I believe that everyone, in time to come, will experience such an intense feeling of enthusiasm and zeal for a certain topic, or subject, which will change your outlook on life forever. For me, photography has achieved that.

Being the pragmatist that I am, I will only do something if I can foresee a meaningful purpose behind that particular activity. So, naturally, the first question I asked when I embarked on photography as a hobby was: why do photography? How will it change my life?

A few answers surfaced as I ventured and dived into photography with my 400D. I realised that it was to:
a) get to know more people who shares a similar infectious passion
b) learn more about the physics of light
c) exercise my creativity and imagination
d) relieve stress
e) learn new skills (e.g. editing with photoshop)
f) explore new territories, visit places and see new things (e.g. botanic gardens)
g) see things through a different lens, to discover new perspectives
h) learn the technical stuff about cameras

It took me about a year to formulate these purposes for doing photography, it didn’t come all at one go, but rather, through repeated encounters with a particular location, though interaction with close friends and after deep pondering.

But even up till today, these reasons, I find, are not too compelling for me to carry on with photography and devoting so much time to it. I knew there was more to photography than just that, there was a stronger, more enthralling, more captivating reason for holding a dSLR and triggering the shutter at subjects, and recently, through Circa, I think I’ve got a step closer to finding that special overarching reason.

Circa was a competition in which I believe that Lord wanted me to take something away from, and I have. Through interacting with Chris Yap and the other Circa participants, I’ve realised that one big reason for photography is that it is the intense exploration of life. Anyone who is concerned with life should do photography, because it would aid one’s understanding of life in a very personal, subjective manner. Other people may beg to differ, that’s fine. Samuel says that photography is the “exhilaration of sight”, and I agree fully to that statement too, but I think what Circa has led me to comprehend is that photography explores life itself, what humans do, how they do it, why they do it. And it is also about sharing your views on life with other people, by participating in meaningful constructive discussion. There’s no point shooting a million superb images but keep them to yourself. You’ve gotta show it off.

It shocked me how photography is so fundamental in nature. It just simply seeks to understand, examine and appreciate all that is around us. I felt thoroughly enlightened when this realisation hit me, and it taught me that photography is not about technical details, equipment talk, f numbers, ISO speeds, shutter speeds and white L lenses.

There’s more to it, which is the eye itself, how we train our eyes to be able to recognise photographic opportunities and decide on how to capture them from the best angle. It’s about being aware of our surroundings and enjoy being in it. It’s about bringing in our emotions and thoughts into a lifeless photo. As photographers, we breathe life into pictures, and the technical stuff are just tools that we use to help us achieve our intended masterpiece.

Now I better understand the saying: a picture speaks a 1000 words. Thank you Circa.

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