Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Self-Portraits: My Photographic Journey

self portraits 
 I experimented with creating these self-portraits the other day. I love how photography can express so many moods and emotions without using words. So far, it feels like I have just touched the tip of the iceberg, and there are so many styles of photography and ways of expression I can try out. 

I first remember holding a camera when I was in elementary school. It was a disposal type, the kind where you take 20-30 pictures and turn it in to develop the film inside. On a school field trip, I had taken photos of the landscape, artifacts we saw, my friends. Afterward, I remember staring at the photos in hands and feeling proud I had taken them.

 Toward the end of middle school, I remember holding a digital camera for the first time. I took photos of the ocean, birds, and fish at the aquarium. It was amazing that things could look different captured in pictures compared to what I saw in real life - more vivid, sharper, more colorful - maybe because in real life, we often don't pay attention enough, don't have the time to slow down and let the images sink in. In high school, I got my first little Canon digital camera, and everything changed. It was so light and I carried it around everywhere I went. The colors were so vivid, and macro shots so detailed that I couldn't stop taking photos of trees, grass, flowers, and textures in small things all around me. (I feel like I should make a separate blog post about this sometime to share a few of those photos.) I did little photoshoots with my friends, learning to cast soft light around a subject and finding interesting angles to shoot from. In college, I took snaps of the sun setting over the dorms, autumn leaves and campus architecture. Berkeley squirrels were also a favorite subject.

After moving to Japan, I saved up and purchased my first DSLR. At first, I was unused to the bulkiness and the extra degrees of control, so different from my beloved little Powershot. For the first few years, I couldn't find myself completely comfortable lugging one around, and I couldn't figure out how to focus correctly for the longest time. I fell into the routine of every day work, forgot to create, and lost sight of why I was doing what I was doing. There something missing, some empty feeling there that I couldn't explain.

Hitting this point, I told myself it was time to start over. I didn't know what I should do, but for the time being, I knew I had to make things, express, put it out into the world, no matter how small or insignificant. I started a new blog, and began to post a few snapshots here and there, writing a few lines about my days. I didn't think too much about what was expected of me from others, just wrote what I felt and posted what I liked. Gradually, the emptiness began to fill, and I naturally grew happier. I realized, what I needed to do was to create.

I became obsessed about improving my photography. I learned the ways to use my camera that were best for me, and started carrying it around everywhere again. Some days I didn't even have the chance take a proper photo, but having it with me carried a sense of comfort. I began to set up shoot after shoot per week. I found a new way to connect with people, to reach other creative minds. I felt so purely fulfilled during each shoot, and I thought that this is something I wanted to do day after day.

The story just begins from here. I know everything has happened for a reason, and it all fits together somehow. 
There are no limits, only those that you choose to set for yourself.