Recently I had something of an odd experience. I received an email from a publisher asking whether it would be possible to use one of my images on a book cover. Whilst extremely flattering this in itself is not remarkable as such for a photographer – sometimes you just happen to have captured the right image for the job, but what was unusual was that this was an image that I had forgotten was even online, having taken the photo in question as part of one of my first ever photography projects when i was only 16.
Whilst weddings and portraits have formed the bulk of my professional career I first started out as a fine art photographer. Back then I spent many happy hours developing film in the dark room before the digital revolution took over and I absolutely adored it. My first proper camera was my grandfather’s Canon A1 and the moment I first held it to my eye and looked through that viewfinder I completely fell in love with it. Since then I have had many incredible cameras both analogue and digital and each has allowed me to develop my photography in different ways and been incredible tools to use. But whilst I do feel great affection for them ever since that A1 (with the possible exception of the first digital camera I purchased for the studio which holds many fond memories for me) each of my cameras has been just that – a tool to enable me to take the kind of pictures I wanted to take. As my photography skills have been honed cameras have become interchangeable and discarded once an upgraded model offered me something new. None have truly offered me the kind of bond I had with that A1 – the kind of bond that led me to go out and take all of those crazy photos I used to go out and capture, photographs I wasn’t taking for a client or as part of someone else’s big day but for me, as a pure creative outlet.
My first love – the Canon A1
I’ve been discussing this lately with a few photography friends and I think many of us feel that same desire to occasionally get back to what started us out in this industry – the pure love of taking a picture. Don’t get me wrong, we all love photographing weddings but it’s a different feeling taking photographs for somebody else and all the responsibility that goes with it. When I was 16 I used to go out and photograph anything and everything, and whilst I may cringe at some of my early attempts and the mistakes my comparatively untrained eye used to make, the ideas behind those crazy projects represent a part of me that I had almost forgotten and that I’ve deeply missed.
This weekend though something special happened, something that I had not felt since that magical moment I picked up that beautiful Canon A1 for the first time. On Sunday I held to my eye a camera which, though digital, reminded me so much of the A1 that it was, once again, love at first sight and I instantly felt inspired to go out and hit the streets and take photographs in the mindset of my 16 year old self. This was a camera that was not merely a tool but felt like the thing that had been missing from my hand, and whilst it will certainly not replace my existing cameras for my wedding and commercial work (although I would be interested to see how I can integrate it into these areas in the future too) this is a camera which I can truly take enormous pleasure in using.
Sadly as I couldn’t take it away there and then I have to wait a few days before I can see my new love again, but I really can’t wait for our second date where we can really get to know each other and maybe share a few of the results. Before you ask I’m not ready to share my new love’s name just yet, this isn’t a camera review after all! But it’s not about one camera, it’s about finding that special something that helps to inspire you whatever it may be and using it to release your full creativity. We’re lucky enough to have a job doing something we love but once it becomes your job it’s easy to begin to forget that it’s also your hobby. I can’t wait to pick up that camera once again and see if I can find the 16 year old Dom lurking in the shadows.