Photography has taught me to appreciate many different things, from the practical to the life-affirming. I just never thought that a room with a plentiful supply of electrical power points would be one such thing.
Last week was my birthday and, as is often the case, it got me thinking about the past year – a year that has been uniquely challenging. But despite the difficulties I like to look for the lessons and positive takeaways.
So to mark another successful journey around the sun I thought I would share (in no particular order) some of the things I have come to appreciate in my life, all thanks to the simple act of picking up a camera and taking photographs.
1) Seeing, not just looking
Without question, photography has taught me to really study what is in front of my eyes. To see, and just look. It has helped me improve as a photographer but more importantly it has helped me appreciate so many small details on a daily basis that would otherwise have been ignored.
2) Respect for nature
Whether it’s the Utah desert or the local south London park, every time I am photographing the outdoors it fills me with respect for nature, as well as appreciation for the beauty (and fragility) of this planet.
3) Duct tape
As I said above, not everything on this list is life-affirming! Is duct tape glamorous? Of course not. But when on a commission there’s always a roll in my bag as nothing solves all manner of equipment failures like duct tape.
4) The cost of memory
I still find it astonishing just how cheap it is to purchase memory. In 2005 I purchased a 160GB hard-drive for £100; today you can get a year’s worth of unlimited cloud storage for less than that. Memory is cheap and in a world where we print so little we should all be grateful for that.
5) Large windows
Like some kind of professional affliction, a large window is now the first thing I look for when I enter a room. Windows mean natural light and that is as good as having a lighting assistant on location. Trust me on this: a large window is a photographer’s friend.
6) A plentiful supply of power points
Whether it’s charging camera batteries or powering strobes, a room can never have too many mains power points. Find me a room with only one available point and I’ll show you a potential problem in the making.
7) The quality of camera phones...
Up until around 2005 my mobile didn’t even have a colour screen, let alone a camera. Now the camera quality is so good they’re within touching distance of making compact cameras essentially redundant.
8) ....and consumer drones
Love them or hate them, the outstanding video quality packed into consumer-priced drones like the Mavic Air makes even an amateur pilot like me feel like I’m filming a series of Planet Earth.
9) Printing your photographs
Whether it’s a Polaroid on your fridge or a carefully curated book of your travel photography, print your photographs. I create one photo-book a year to have something to show for my effort. Leave a legacy of your time on this earth and don’t let it all become forgettable digital dust.
10) The art of patience
One of my biggest takeaways from photography has been the art of patience. Waiting for the light to change. Waiting to complete a project. Waiting for my next source of inspiration. Picking up a camera has taught me to slow down, be patient and accept that there are some things in life that are beyond our control.