Wednesday, 1 May 2013

In the Beginning....

I first picked up a camera to document a holiday to Thailand. I was so excited to be visiting a new continent and wanted a record of the trip. On my return I realised just how much enjoyment I found in the process of taking photographs. So began a bumpy and interesting journey learning about photography. I used to head out at all times of day looking for anything interesting to photograph including people, places and things. I never had a notion of what I wanted to photograph and felt free to shoot anything without over thinking the process. 

 See this image on flickr here; Blyth © Anthony Dorman

It did not take long to realise that people would be the focus of my photography. I was becoming increasingly drawn to portraiture and street photography and began studying not only the masters of the genre but up and coming photographers showing their images on flickr. Being a natural people watching voyeur this was an instinctive choice of style and theme that has influenced my whole approach to photography. 

Picking a style of work is not always a conscience decision however I think it is all too easy to get stuck in a rut. Whilst looking through my flickr page I have become increasingly aware that I was moving away from my initial interest in documenting everything. Even though I will always love portrait based work I have made the conscience decision to mix things up and get back to basics - shoot everything!   

See this image on flickr here; Untitled © Anthony Dorman

Like many photographers I know I am guilty of being a bit too precious about the images I produce. Being critical about what images you produce is a good thing however being overly critical can prevent you from learning. It can also remove the fun and excitement out of something that is a passion and to some extent defines you. Whats the point of moping around feeling dejected when you see great images by other photographers? There is no point - simply get out with your camera and start shooting. Try something different, a different style, theme or location. I have been guilty of sitting at home watching crap TV instead of heading out to a new location with the enthusiasm of I felt when I first picked my camera up.

See this image on flickr here; West End © Anthony Dorman

These images are not my normal style, people may or may not like them, it does not bother me either way. I am going back to basics because there is something magical about heading into the unknown with a camera and no preconceived notions of what you want to shoot or are expected to shoot by your peers.

One reminder of how much photography has shaped my life occurred shortly after I took the first image. Whilst shooting a family portrait at the beach a while back my tripod ended up being covered in sand. Since then it has been less than steady. The sand and dampness has corroded the bolts that tighten the adjustable legs. Whilst shooting the long exposure image I decided to check out another angle and walked away from my camera. Imagine my horror as I turned back to see the said tripod toppling over with my Canon 5DMKII and f2.8 24-70mm fastened to the top! Having never dropped this camera before I was distraught to hear it crashing onto concrete from about a 5ft height. I was sure the camera, lens or both would be broken. To my amazement it appears to be working just fine. I did have to straighten out my hotshoe (flash mount) and the surround now has a hefty dint! I had been told by a photographer that he dropped his 5DMKII down some stairs twice without a problem but never wanted to test his theory. In the seconds that I watched the camera fall my heart stopped, what would I do - I can't afford to replace this gear! It reminded me that this crazy stupid, expensive maddening passion of mine is also something that brings me great joy and experiences I would not have had otherwise. I will of course continue to produce street portraits but this will not be the sole focus of what I do. I am just a bloke with a camera; I'm not shooting for anyone other than myself now and this idea makes me happy.

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