Blue-Violet Iris Interior

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Accidental Photographer

I have to say, it comes as a bit of a surprise that photography is the medium that has propelled my art out into the world because photography is a very new venture for me.  My two principle creative avenues were always drawing and writing. I drew and wrote as a child, I drew and wrote my way through college, I was drawing and writing in grad school when my mental health collapsed.  I explored all kinds of media along the way, of course.  
A clay boy I made when I was 8 and wire sculpture that represents my sister and me.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with clay when I was younger, for example, thought very seriously about going into architecture from the ages 9-20 and so was always designing floor plans, had a wire sculpture phase when I was in my teens, played lead guitar in a rock band in high school, fiddled around with paints and so forth, but it always came back to writing and drawing.  I particularly liked to work with pen and ink with the occasional incorporation of pastels.  I enjoyed the tiny, precise, controlled, meditative aspect of putting black ink on white paper.

This drawing is part of a series I was working on in grad school.
It's kind of funny, because I really haven't drawn at all since I had my initial total mental health collapse back in 2003.  Something was turned off.  The medication changes I underwent robbed me of all my creativity for several years, but the writing came back.  The desire to draw didn't.

I was ripe, I suppose, for stumbling into a new mode of visual creative expression and while I had been focusing my efforts elsewhere, camera technology had evolved to meet my secret photographic desire.

My first attempt at macro photography.
The image above was on the first roll of film I had developed after receiving a camera for my 12th birthday.  I had spied a little brown spider on the brown shag carpeting that covered our stairs at the time and I thought, wouldn't it be cool to take pictures of unexpected things camouflaged by their surroundings?  This was to be the first in the series.  Except it didn't turn out.  You couldn't focus in close enough.  I had several cameras over the years, but even the more sophisticated one I had when I was in college still needed to be at least four feet away from the subject.  My interest was always in the tiny details and textures, the things that needed to be seen in close-ups, so it simply wasn't worth my while to pursue photography from an artistic standpoint.

When I was in college, the first digital cameras were coming out.  I remember someone I knew who spent a semester in Japan had one, but I was unimpressed by the picture quality.  I didn't take them very seriously.  However, the technology approved quite rapidly, as I was to discover when I picked up my dad's digital camera for some reason in the fall of 2007 and discovered that while I wasn't paying attention, ordinary point-and-shoot digital cameras had developed a macro setting!

My father's camera and I swiftly became inseparable as I started taking macro photos of a little wooden mouse all over the house.  By my current standard, most of the pictures are very poor, but at that time I wasn't thinking they'd be seen by anyone but me.  I'm someone who is compelled to create and taking macro digital photos perfectly fit my abilities at the time.  It didn't require a lot of planning, a lot of mental agility, a lot of precision, a lot of focus.  The digital nature allowed for an enormous margin for error.  I didn't expect this new hobby to go anywhere in particular, but I did invest in a new computer shortly afterward and ordered it with double the standard memory and RAM with digital photography in mind.  I received my own version of my dad's camera for Christmas that year and my macro photography hobby began to evolve into something bigger. 

Today I took 175 photos, including this one of a red cabbage.
My ability to take macro digital photos has become even more important with the onset of the migraines.  Unable to keep working as a floral designer, continue my studies in graphic design, or do what I consider "serious" writing (and frequently this sort of writing as well), photography must now serve as the sole outlet for my sometimes uncomfortably urgent need to create.  I believe that one day I will be able to write again and draw again, but until then, I am so glad to have found a means for creating within my limitations.

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