|One of my images ever shot - of course it is of my favourite model|
First let me start by saying thanks to everyone that responded to my last post and for giving me your feedback. The overwhelming response was for me to discuss photography more on the blog. I couldn't be happier with the response as I had been toying back and forth with the idea of writing more about photography but wasn't sure how it would be received.
My photography has mirrored my journey with cancer in a reciprocal manner; as my leukemia takes up a lesser extent of my life, photography has been there to take up the slack. So it only makes sense that now as my leukemia continues to fade into the background that I begin to write more about what has been taking its place.
I really don't intend to change the way I write; I will still continue to reflect and find connections to our daily lives. It is just my muse is beginning to change.
Before we begin down this path, I thought today would be as good as any to start at the beginning.
I wish I could tell you a romantic story like the ones you here from so many of the great photographers; where I grew up in a dark room and was taking pictures before I could walk but I can't. I started photography as simply a means to kill time.
You see after the initial month of staying in the hospital to recieve and recover from your chemotherapy to fight the leukemia, you are discharged into the real world. Your days are spent in solitude (often times forced due to restrictions on when and where you can go). As the weather warmed a bit, I had to get out of the apartment for two reasons. I was going crazy from being trapped in a small place and I needed to start exercising to begin trying to build back up my body and prevent pneumonia.
In the beginning I was only able to go down the elevator, walk to the corner (a whole 100m) and then get back to the apartment before I had lost all energy. But even those few minutes outside, not matter how miniscule, were envigorating. After living in a hospital for 6 weeks, attached to a machine 24 hours a day and not knowing if you will live or die, the ability to walk outside and breathe fresh air was nothing short of life changing.
I wasn't just envigorated by the fresh air though, I went into sensory overload. Everything I smelt, heard, and saw seemed so much more vivid to me; everything around me was overflowing with life.
I began to realize that as we grow up and routine becomes more and more a part of our lives, our perception of the abundance of life around us becomes dulled increasingly with the passing of each day.
Look at a newborn baby as they look around at their new world. Their eyes are full of wonderment and curiousity as they take in all the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells of their new world. Now compare that to walking around downtown in a big city. Everyone is walking around with blinders on, completely oblivious to everything around them.
One morning I was out taking pictures in Toronto before an appointment and I wanted to test just how oblivious and self absorbed people really were. I decided to say "Good Morning" to every person I walked by for an hour. In that whole time less than 10 people acknowledged me with a Good Morning back.
I am not here to rant about how oblivious people are to their surroundings I more just brought it up to illustrate how as we continue to grow older, somewhere along the way we no longer pay attention to everything around us.
After my cancer diagnosis and surviving that first month of nasty chemo protocol I found myself reverting back to that infant state of wonderment. It was simply refreshing.
As time passed and my increased strength enabled me to venture past the corner, something terrible happened. That vivid sensory overload was beginning to fade, not only that but I was beginning to go crazy again. This time the trapped feedling was borne out of boredom. Up until that point I had been busy non-stop, with my brain always engaged. And now everything had been taken from me and I was reeling.
Thankfully this didn't last long and I decided to take action into my own hands. It was time for me to learn a new hobby. I decided that maybe I should give photography a try; it was a cost effective way for me to continue to get low impact exercise and fresh air. Also, it was something I could do independently. On a whim I bought my first camera, a Nikon D5000, not knowing if I would take to this new hobby.
When the camera finally arrived in the mail, I took it out for its first test spin. I don't think I ended up with any great photos but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Additionally, I found my senses were beginning to notice everything around them again. I was hooked. I got home, downloaded the images I took, and began searching voraciously for anything I could read on photography to begin learning how to improve.
That was over two years ago and I am so thankful I found my way to camera. It has provided me with countless hours of pleasure and helped fill the void of keeping my brain sharp and thinking.