My first proper experience with photography was toiled with frustration and resentment, due in large part by my childish temperament and clumsy nature.
I first began somewhat seriously taking photos at the age of 14, when my mother bought me my first camera. It was a Canon 1100d. It came with a telephoto and macro lens. I was thrilled. I was ready to take it on our weekend trip to the Grampians. We arrived at our cabin late in the afternoon and began unpacking our stuff. Soon after, our cabin was surrounded by a group of curious kangaroos, looking to welcome their new guests. I quicky ran to get my camera, crept out the back door and was able to snap some photographs. After I finished shooting my first photos my new camera, I went back inside to transfer the photographs onto my father’s laptop. However, the camera used CR cards instead of the current SD cards. We didn’t have that particular card reader. After stomping around in frustration for 5 minutes, I decided to accept defeat and place the card back inside the camera. Although, it wouldn’t fit properly. As the ham-handed 14-year old I was, I forcefully jammed the card in the socket, damaging the pins at the bottom. This was two mishaps within the first day of my relationship with my new camera, and I wasn’t pleased. My parents were even less so. After spending the next day looking for a camera repair shop and being told that the issue was an expensive fix, I was rather mopey for the rest of the weekend. Gosh, one would not want to be around me for those next couple of days.
After managing to sell my broken camera body, I invested in the next generation model, the Canon 1200d, which became my second, first proper camera. For the next few years, I would photograph on and off, nothing serious, but I worked at developing my technical and creative photography skills. It was at the age of 18 that my photography really took off. I bought a Sony a6000 off a guy on Facebook Marketplace for a very good price, and started to officially enter the world of photography, editing, and publishing online. A year later, I sold the camera for $150 more than I bought it for (King of the Buy and Sell) and used the money to purchase my current camera, the Sony A7 (off Facebook Marketplace again for a steal). I started doing model shoots with friends of mine, and frequently travelling out with a close photographer buddy to build my portfolio.
In August of 2019, I travelled to Boston on a University Exchange Program. I took a class on 35mm black and white film photography and fell in love with shooting film. I had shot some film in the past, but this was the first time I was engaging in the entire process of shooting, developing, and analogue printing in the darkroom on my own. For the class, I needed a film camera. I looked on good old Facebook Marketplace and found a lovely Canon AE-1 Program with a 50mm f/1.8 lens and a flash for USD$50. I researched the model and saw that the camera body itself was worth almost $400. I replied to the ad as quickly as possible, and managed to have the camera shipped the next week.
I would venture out on weekends into the city of Boston, chat with people and photograph them. This allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and add great purpose to my photographs that I was required to present to the class. Throughout the semester, I became highly technically and creatively critical in my shooting, never shooting something unless it possessed some creative depth. I shot and developed 8 rolls of Ilford HP5 black and white film, and used an enlarger to make roughly 30 prints. Shooting film enhanced my fundamental understanding of photography, to slow down, and value each particular shot as if it were your last. I would have never reached this level of particularity about photography if I were strictly shooting digital.
In my last month abroad, I bought 8 rolls of Kodak 200 film and shot throughout New York City, New Jersey, and Vancouver before returning back to Melbourne. Looking back on my images, each shot out of a roll of 36 was special to me. I aimed to never take a picture for the sake of it. The limitation of 36 shots was a motivator to maximise my creative potential. There’s no option to take hundreds of photographs and find one that worked, like I can do on digital. I strived to make them all that one.
I will continue to use photography and writing to tell stories, to share the experiences of my life and the lives of others. For me, photographs and text are all you need to create a moving piece, or to change one’s life. I will work to voice the stories of those who are unheard, bring light to the situations that are left in the dark, and continue to challenge myself and grow as a photojournalist.