It occurred to me recently that I'd never really gone into much detail as to how I got started with photography. Photography came into my life quite by accident. I was 15 years old, studying for my IGCSE (international GCSE's for all you Brits!) in Art and Design, and doing some research when I stumbled on a website: Flickr.com. Before I knew it, I'd spent hours looking through all these images. A lot of what I was discovering had been taken by people within a similar age to me, and they were incredible! I couldn't believe that someone as young as me could be so talented.
Photography was something I'd always enjoyed without really realising. I was given my first 35mm film camera when I was 8 years old, and I would run around taking photos of our dogs in the garden. There was no artistic intention there, but the desire to "freeze time," as I like to call it, has been in me for a very long time.
After I discovered Flickr, and realised that photography was an actual "thing," I was hooked. I'd always been creative, but never felt like I really enjoyed painting or drawing, or that I was particularly good at it. I did those things at school, because I loved the environment of the art department, and because something in me really, really wanted to create. Once I discovered photography, for the first time in my life, I was able to be creative, enjoy it, and feel like I was actually good at it.
I made myself a Flickr account, essentially stole my parent's DSLR (A Nikon D80 with a standard kit lens) and began shooting. I would spend hours reading articles about how to use a camera, watching videos on YouTube about manual modes. I played in the garden, shooting anything and everything in an attempt to properly understand how a camera worked. Slowly but surely, I began to understand the process and before I knew it, images I actually loved were starting to form.
I have such fond memories of that summer. I had discovered a new passion, something that for the first time in my life, I felt like I could pursue forever and ever. The one thing that I couldn't do? Tell anyone else about it. I'm sure my parent's realised that their camera had disappeared and that I was taking a lot of photos, but I didn't really show them to anyone that I actually knew; I shared them all online with the incredible community that was Flickr. I was so shy and worried about what people would say about my new "hobby" that I didn't dare share it with anyone; especially because most of the imagery I was doing was self portraits. I'd always been drawn to images of people the absolute most, and if anyone was around Flickr between 2007 and 2010, you'll know that the vast majority of the content on there was self portraiture. I loved it. I felt creative. I felt empowered. But I was terrified of what people would say.
With hindsight (and an older brain of 24), I wish I had ignored those fears and just shared my work, ignoring what people would have said. But the confidence in me grew eventually, and after a year or two (I can't quite remember) I did begin to share what I was doing in secret. I created a Facebook page (the same one I have now) and admittedly, I was teased about it at school, but something in me said to ignore it. I'm glad I did, because I finished school, and in my summer before heading off to university, spent the entire summer photographing other people for the first time.
University came, and I completed a foundation degree and went on to study my Fashion Photography bachelors... and that's where things changed a bit.
On Monday, I'll be telling you about those changes, so make sure you come back then! In the mean time, if you're really sneaky and want to see the imagery that I was taking in the early days of my photography career, then head to my Flickr Profile.
These images were all taken on an old Pentax with Portra 400 at Chapel Porth beach, Cornwall.