Why Photography

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Me, aged 3Me, aged 3

Good question!! The answer is simple: I have no idea. As far as I can remember, I have always been interested in photography. I recently found this photo of my childhood friend and I assume — judging by the angle — that I’m the photographer.

I assume I took this photoI assume I took this photo

It looks like my friend is 8-9 years old which would make me 7 or 8. I think this is taken using the family camera, a Kodak Instamatic. I think I remember borrowing the camera and running around taking photos … but perhaps these are constructed” memories, I don’t know.

I don’t remember exactly why I found photos fascinating but I remember looking at different photo books in the local library. Looking at the photos trying to imagine the world the photos showed was very exciting. I, of course, liked books about different animals, but I think I was more interested in books that told some kind of story. For example, how people lived in Africa, or how people lived 30-50 years ago, photos from World War I & II, the travels of different explorers, etc.

My father built me a darkroom in the basement when I was a teenager. I spent a lot of time in that room trying to make prints that looked good. I learned the basic stuff of how to develop film and make the prints, I also think that I was allowed to try to develop color negative film at school, but I think that I wasn’t good at it since I didn’t really have the patience for it.

Me in the darkroom my father builtMe in the darkroom my father built

Around that time I also started to save up for my first SLR, and I was able to buy a brand new Pentax MX right after it was released. Later I also bought a couple of lenses and spent quite some time trying to take some decent photos.

When I started highschool I spent the weeks, and sometimes weekends, in a town some distance from home. So while I still was interested in photography, I didn’t have that many chances to do anything. Same thing when I started studying at the university. I remember looking for a darkroom that I could use but I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. So, there is basically a 15-year gap where I took very, very few photos. But I still loved reading photo stories in magazines, or browse documentary books in the library.

This all changed one birthday. My mother, father, brother and sisters bought me my first digital camera as a birthday present, a Nikon Coolpix 885. Suddenly I didn’t need a darkroom anymore, just a computer … and access to computers wasn’t a problem for me. So instead of spending several hours going to a darkroom, preparing chemicals, making sure I had paper, do the actual printing, develop the prints, taking care of the chemicals, dry the prints, clean up, etc., I could just copy the files from the memory card to the computer and then do some basic editing. All sitting in the sofa at home … and if I needed to do something else I could just save the files and leave the computers. For me, this was huge. Instead of setting aside many hours to do some prints, it was enough to have a few minutes free.

I continued taking snapshots for a few years, buying a couple of compact cameras because of some serious limitations to that Coolpix. My favorite problem was that it time delay between pressing the shutter and actually capturing the photo was so long that kids was able to run out of the frame!

But a few years later, in March 2007 according to my photo library, my sister had bought a Canon 350D and I started to thinking about getting a DSLR myself. My biggest concern was that I didn’t know if would be spending money on something I wouldn’t use. Anyway, I decided to take a chance and went to the local photo store to buy myself a Canon … but I came out with a Nikon D80 instead. The reason for buying the D80 instead of a Canon was simply that the 350D was too small for my hands, the D80 felt much better in my hands.

So, now I couldn’t really complain about the camera when the quality was bad — it was just my fault. Time to start trying to improve the quality of my photos. At that time the majority of the photos were family photos, photos of friends, some attempts of nature photography, some travel photography … but they were all snapshots. However, after a few years I started to take photos of Ju-Jutsu and it was a complete failure both from a content perspective and from a technical perspective. Not only didn’t I know how I which settings I should use, I didn’t know what kind of content I should be looking for. But for some reason I continued to take photos, concentrating on the technical side … to be honest I didn’t really think about the content/story, and I got better. I have always liked that I each year can look at the photos I took last year and think how could I take such bad photos?”.

When the quality baseline of your photos look like this it’s not difficult to improve 🙂When the quality baseline of your photos look like this it’s not difficult to improve 🙂

After buying a new lens which improved the technical quality I decided to buy a new, i.e. second hand, camera that was a better fit for me — the D80 was too small for my hands and I got cramp in my fingers. So in the autumn of 2012 I bought a full frame camera, a Nikon D700. It’s a wonderful camera and the technical quality improved from the first exposure. After a short while it became obvious to me that I had maxed out” the D80 and that couldn’t take the photos I wanted because of the technical limitations of the D80.

Thanks to the D700 I learned a lot about photography during the next 6 years. I tried all kind photographic genres and learned a lot of how I use the camera and what lenses I should use in different situations. Unfortunately, it was still pretty pictures” without any kind of story to them … and while I didn’t think of it at the time, it has been something that have irritated me deep down.

Anyway, in 2018 I got an offer to buy a second hand Nikon D4s, a pro level body, and after trying it out over a weekend I decided to buy it. This is the best camera I’ve ever used for sports photography, it has all the buttons right under my fingertips and it feels great in my hands. It’s also very responsive and perfect for action shots.

That’s basically my story so far, I’ve mostly spent my time taking pretty pictures” and various types of action photography. While I’m definitely not even close to be a good sports photographer I think I’m OK from a technical perspective … but there is something lacking from my photos: the storyline.

This is there I am right now, technically I master the basics but I don’t know how to tell a story. And this is what I want to learn next, it’s going to be interesting to see how well I succeed.