The Day I Became A Photographer

I remember the day. It was the 9th of November, 2015, it was the day I became a photographer.

At the time I took this picture, I was working in Mumbai in India as a video editor. It was a late afternoon and I was standing against the wall in our kitchen just looking and not really thinking about anything. My gaze wandered and the pieces began coming together. The light, the arrangement of the utensils, the window, the building is the distance. I was suddenly aware. I was looking at a point in my life. I felt like containing this moment and so I took the three steps to my table, on which lay my DSLR a Canon 60D, my roommate’s Canon 7D and my phone. I picked up my phone and took a picture. It wasn’t about clicking the picture, it was about capturing what I had seen or more so how the scene made me feel.

I looked at that picture on my phone and thought, this is amazing! This is a scene I see every day, and yet I never actually looked, never had I taken in the whole scene with all its details at once, the unintentionally spread arrangement of the utensils, the small kitchen reminiscent of the fact that we were just starting out as strugglers in a very difficult industry, the slightly open windows waiting to open yet the view blocked by high rise building, a kind of muffled freedom. It was a simple scene, yet it was a complex scene. It meant something to me. For the first time, I felt I had taken a photograph, and just like that, I was a photographer. Not because of experience, surely not because of fame or recognition but simply because I had taken a picture that meant something. I consider it my first photograph because this time it was about ‘what’ & ‘why’ I photographed and not how, when, where or with what.

The next day I stepped out with my new found interest in capturing things that have some meaning to me. I only took my phone because I wasn’t going out to practice how to use a tool, I was going out to practice seeing. I began doing this every day. It opened my eyes to what photography really was. All my previous failed attempts at taking pictures became clear to as to why they were failed attempts. I had got the sequence of things all wrong. When I first tried my hand at photography, I had begun by trying to master a tool- the camera. I had spent so much time figuring out the best tool for the job, researching cameras and all the equipment that I needed, I forgot about the art form. When I got my fancy tools I had no idea what to make with it. I was like I was standing there with a 1000 euro paint brush not knowing how and what to paint. No wonder I quickly lost interest when I first started.

If you are starting out a photographer I completely understand why you are so keen on finding out which is the best gear to own. It is because all around you people are selling you tools in the promise that it will make you a better photographer. The tools are sold directly through brands and indirectly through the people you admire. Your favourite photographer is using a Canon, maybe you should too? To focus on the art form, get the tools when you actually start feeling limited with what you have, that is what I now go by.