Written by: Creative Content Producer, Phoebe Beard
I had a love-hate relationship with photography. I’d go through bursts of excitement, staging photoshoots every day and editing all night, followed by periods of indifference when I never wanted to touch or even look at a camera again. I never stopped telling people I loved photography, but I’d often stop feeling it. I’d sit in my high school photography class, SO frustrated. Why did some assignments get me so excited, while others made me want to throw the camera against a wall and storm out of class? It was like my body knew when I hated a project before my brain actually knew why. Then I started to notice a trend. I realized that I’d always spend more time obsessing over pictures of people. Obsessing in a good way -- in the “holy heck, this is amazing, so let’s take even more photos and spend all night editing them” kind of way. So, I had figured out what I liked to shoot, but I still didn’t know why. Why did photographing still-lifes or landscapes bore me to my CORE, while photographing people fueled my creative spirit? I never figured out the answer... until 3 weeks ago.
I mentioned before that I spent a lot of my high school career in photography classes, but what I didn’t mention is that I didn’t bother to submit an AP portfolio to be reviewed, because I hated the way it turned out. I knew I deserved AP credit, but I couldn’t bear to send the AP exam reviewers something I wasn’t proud of. So here I am, four years deep into my photography experience, taking “Intro to Intermedia and Photography.” However, there is one good thing that has already come out of this intro-level course.
It was the second day of class. The professor was going over how to use a camera, and I was trying desperately to pay attention, despite feeling like I already knew everything he was telling us. Then, I started noticing his constant repetition of the phrase “making a picture.” Why did he keep saying that? I had only ever heard the phrase “taking a picture.” Why was he saying “making”? And then, I had one of those moments of clarity we so seldom get to experience: Anyone can take a picture, but not everyone can make a picture. Anyone can take a picture of a mountain or a tree or a house, but not everyone can spend time deliberately styling a subject’s clothing, makeup and hair, positioning them in an “interesting but not awkward but kind of awkward in a cool way” kind of manner, making sure the essence of the subject acts in harmony with the essence of their background, complimenting their form with just the right framing, creating the picture before pushing the button on the camera. This is what I have loved all along. I never liked taking pictures; I liked making pictures.
There are a couple morals to this story. First, you don’t have to love everything about your chosen field. If you love painting mushrooms and you hate painting everything else, then just paint mushrooms. You don't have to know why you like painting mushrooms just yet, but someday you’ll figure it out. Until then, just paint some more mushrooms. And finally, everything really does happen for a reason and you really can learn something new in every class. Who knew my fifth photography class, my “unnecessary” second intro course, and my fifth tutorial on how to use a camera, would teach me so much about myself and clarify my true, life passion.