oh hi, it’s me.

oh hi, it’s me. this is my first blog post. I don’t know what I’m doing yet. there is much to learn. I’m a photographer specializing in iphonetography. I have a “big camera,” but it’s heavy, and I have chronic neck issues. somewhere I heard that the best camera is the one you take with you. I remind myself of that whenever I get all up on my case about “only” using my iPhone to take photos. *rolls eyes at unnecessary self-criticism* I do a daily photo project. you may have heard of it: Project 365 (a.k.a. the 365 Project). I’m not the creator of the project. I don’t know who is, but back in 2009 I started taking photos every day with the Olympus digital point-and-shoot camera my parents had given me about 5 years prior. it was very exciting to discover that I had raw talent at something, especially after years of experiencing random surges of creative energy I was not sure how to channel. that’s not to say that those first photos were anything that great, but they demonstrated an intuitive understanding of composition. when I showed the photos I had taken on a solo trip to Discovery Park to my mom, she was very impressed, and offered to buy me a “real camera” (a.k.a. a “big camera”). not that she said it like that, but that was how I thought of it. you know, like a “real job,” which is another inherently judgmental turn of phrase that people say, even though it’s rude and disrespectful of the people working their asses off in low-paying jobs at cafes and fast food joints. incidentally, I spent nearly eight years working my ass off for a gigantic corporation based in Seattle that pedals a plethora of sugar-laden coffee drinks, and I deeply resented the implication that mine was anything other than a “real job.” but I do tend to get off on tangents. and sometimes I get up on soap boxes. so.

so then I got a Nikon D-40 digital SLR camera for my birthday, and started using that on automatic function. I think at the time I was posting my photos on Flikr, along with some commentary. there were no hashtags, I don’t think, because I’m not a Milennial (no judgment implied, honest!), and so it took me a while to understand what those “pound signs” were even for. I’m from the tail end of Gen X, and we learned how to “keyboard” on word processors, “beepers” were the smart phones of our era, and email and the internet were new. there was no Facebook. texting was not a thing. I listened to CDs when I got home from school, and we looked to encyclopedias for information. that was my experience, anyway. but here I’ve gotten off track again. I was enjoying using my “big camera” for a while, then one year, with my tax return money, I decided to take a beginner’s photography class at the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW). this was a very frustrating experience for me at first; I had had some sense of mastery from using my camera in automatic, and learning how to use manual settings wasn’t nearly so…automatic. you’ll forgive me for that one.

I like to be good at things. I’m proud. admittedly, it’s a good thing I wasn’t “proud” as an infant, else I mightn’t’ve learned to walk, speak the language, write, use utensils, and so forth. you know, the basics. so feeling completely inept, especially in an area I had previously felt a reasonable degree of confidence, was pretty hard for this proud girl to take. I didn’t get the whole exposure thing. the lens speed. aperture. f-stop. the what now? I need to use this gray card for what exactly? see, I’m not really a technically-oriented person. much more intuitive. but since I was in a class, I kind of had to adapt. so I learned some things, many of which I’ve now forgotten. I never did master lighting, exposure, etc. but I found my own style. I found that I super-duper dug over-exposed images. I was photographing some tulips on the mantle (mantel? *shrugs*) in the house where I was living at the time, and I loved the ethereal freshness of just the suggestion of a tulip. I really need to dig up those images, because I think I would still like them. this freedom from the strictures of set rules (ones I could not easily master) was a turning point for me in my experience of myself as an artist. these weren’t the accidental up-the-nose shots and poor-quality, earnest-yet-canned birthday party pics I remembered from childhood and adolescence. this was fine art.

over the years, I have done Project 365 at least five times? (I’m currently five months into my third consecutive year.) it was a really big deal for me to discover that I could stick with something (other than, you know, breathing and eating) every single day of an entire year. and my photography improved. anything you do daily improves, becomes more natural. at some point I got sick of always having my DSLR with me–it was bulky and heavy. so around 2013, I switched to almost exclusively using my iPhone. I think it began when I had the good fortune of going to India. naturally I planned to take amazing photos of India, but I encountered an unforeseen issue. that camera, in that context, meant something different. here in the US, everyday Americans walk around cities with SLRs (single lens reflex cameras–the kind with detachable lenses) dangling from their necks, and they don’t necessarily seem “rich.” but in the towns I visited in India, I stuck out like a sore thumb. mainly, because I’m a white-skinned Westerner, but the camera made me look wealthy. as my host explained to me, the camera might draw the kind of attention I wouldn’t want–begging. not the same kind of unwanted attention I would draw if I wore a tank top or sundress in Ahmednagar, but unwanted nonetheless.

Everywhere I went in India looked to me like the pages of a National Geographic magazine. it was so different, like another planet, almost. one day in Pune, I was wandering around taking photos of various quaint little colorful streets and ramshackle buildings, and an old woman poked her head out of her door with this disapproving look on her face. she may have even lightly scolded me. in that moment, I got a different perspective. here I was, this presumably wealthy white woman with her fancy camera, photographing this strange land, like I was at a zoo, fascinated by the animals. there was a hint of the grotesque in it, an objectification. these were not mere dioramas in a history museum; these were peoples’ homes, where they actually lived. the experience momentarily revealed to me a level of privilege I had never before even sensed that I carried. so I put away my big camera, and used my smaller, less conspicuous iPhone camera for most of the photos I took on that trip. from a purely artistic perspective, I’m disappointed that I didn’t take more photos with my big camera in India–the quality is far superior. but from a human perspective, it was a good thing.

I think that’s all I’m going to write for now. I hope you liked it.

typical Indian dog in Pune, India.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Becki (Mom) says:

    I LOVED it! Keep it up. Can’t wait for more.


    1. thanks, Mom! *proud*


  2. Ashley Marie says:

    Absolutely loved your first post. It was very real and relatable. I would love to hear more about how you ended up in India and your experiences there.


    1. thank you so much! I will certainly be sharing more soon!


  3. Keri says:

    Loved this!! Thank you for sharing, looking forward to more of your writing (& photography too!)


  4. Jessi says:

    Loved hearing about some of your experiences in India. Is the picture at the top of the age from that trip?


    1. yes, that picture was taken a little before, and a street over from where the old lady gave me the look.


  5. withoutawhy says:

    You seem pretty good at this.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s