Why photography?

“So, what made you get into photography?” It is the question we have all been asked at some point. Often repeatedly. It is a question we have probably all asked ourselves. It is something most of us have on our ‘about me’ page on our website.  I have always wanted to reply to this question with a cute story. You know the one. The one where my Dad gave me his Mamiya C330 (or maybe his Olympus OM-1) as a present when I was a kid. He showed me how to use it. We took photos together. I took it everywhere, spent hours in the darkroom and have been in love with photography ever since. That is not my story.

There were always cameras in our house, and later on camcorders (remember how great we all looked on holiday with one of those in our hands?). No one was really into photography though. Cameras came out at family events and holidays. That was it really. I can’t remember the first camera my Dad had. One thing he did have though was Gear.Acquisition.Syndrome (GAS). If something new was out, he had to have it. We had to have the one with the best features. We had to have the one that the shop said was the best. We had to have the one that was in the magazines. My Dad was, without a doubt, a Yuppie. He had the fileofax, the briefcase, a car phone and a ponytail. You name it he had it. He was so trendy that his office even had an Apple Macintosh Plus. His didn’t earn his nickname of ‘Del Boy’ by chance.

My Dad, circa 1990
My Dad, circa 1990

Back to cameras. The first camera I can remember actually using was a Ricoh Mirai, which came out in the late 1980’s. It was a 35mm autofocus SLR, and it was huge. That camera was so vastly different from everything out there. But, it was new and fantastic. So my Dad had one.

Ricoh Mirai
The Ricoh Mirai ( photo via dcview.com)

I enjoyed using this as a kid if I’m honest. It felt like some kind of futuristic gun when you held it. I held it a lot. Whenever we went away, I would always try to grab the camera first. If I couldn’t get the camera, then I grabbed the video camera as the photo below will testify. Remember how I said we all looked cool with a camcorder?

Old Family Pictures-4
My brother and I look exceptionally cool.

I don’t think it was about the photography for me back then. I simply liked gadgets. Most likely my dad’s influence. What I really enjoyed though was getting the pictures back from the developers and reliving the memories. The little ‘out of focus’ or ‘red eye’ stickers that would be on some of them. All of us sitting around the table saying ‘What was that meant to be?’ at every 10th photo or so.

As we headed into the 90’s my parents were divorced. My dad had other cameras, but I don’t really remember them. What I do remember was my Mum and my stepdad buying the coolest thing ever. A camera which took Advanced Photo System Film.

Kodak Advantix APS Film (picture by Araonyeo)

I thought this stuff was incredible. It allowed you to select three different aspect ratios (16:9, 3:2 and 3:1). Getting back panoramic shots was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. This film is still on sale today.

Despite having these cameras and despite taking photos every on every single holiday or at every family event we actually have very little to show for it. Both sides of my family moved houses several times, my dad more so. Things got misplaced. When my Dad moved to Spain in 1998 a lot got misplaced. As a result, there is very little photographic record of my childhood left. I have even less left of my grandparents. I remember one photo of my grandmother ( mothers side) that I always wanted when she died. I never knew what happened to it. In the years between 1998 – 2004 I must have less than 10 pictures to show for the whole 6 years.

That is what pushed me into photography. The lack of a physical record of such large chunks of my life made me decide I wasn’t going to let that happen again.

I didn’t want to get to 60 years of age and have no record of my life.  I wanted memories to look back on. I wanted to dig out the photo albums when people came over.  I wanted to laugh and smile as we embarrassed each other with old photos. The human brain is an incredible thing, but one day we might need some help in remembering events, people or places. That help will come from the photos we take.

I leave you with some of the photos that have surfaced from my childhood. If I find more,  I will add them later. Hover for descriptions.



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