I believe in obsession. On Facebook not long ago, a friend and I were having a dialogue about our mutual interest of photography. He told me that if I want to be good in photography, I would have to become obsessed with it. Given my reaction to photography I believe this to be true. From my introduction to photography I have devoted an enormous amount of time reading, studying techniques, and photography news. In fact I have devoted so much time, that it affected my studies.
In the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Obsession is defined as:
a state in which someone thinks about someone or something constantly or frequently especially in a way that is not normal
someone or something that a person thinks about constantly or frequently
an activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing
I think that the second and third variations of the definition fit me well because in reality, I am constantly thinking about photography whether or not I have a camera with me. I think about how I might capture a particular scene if I only had my camera. As a part of my evaluation I also consider whether the lighting should be warm or cool, and what white balance I should use.
Of course these are more than the usual, or one might say, advanced thoughts about photography that come to mind. But they did not one day suddenly materialize in my brain. I had to start somewhere. And for me it started in December of my sophomore year of high school. I began to have an interest in capturing images but was most often without a camera of my own. I asked my Dad if he would buy me a camera. He consented and for the next few weeks both my dad and I scoured the internet looking for a good camera that was inexpensive yet good. We eventually agreed that on a “point and shoot” that cost around a hundred dollars.
I loved the camera and I took it with me everywhere...literally everywhere: to school, to church. My camera and I were inseparable friends. I was in a word, obsessed. Given my obsession with it and my ability to capture images I quickly found that it had its limitations. I was deep into it and it saddened me that my interest in photography was a severely limited by that camera. Therefore, a year later, in December of my junior year of high school, I pleaded with Dad to buy me a more advanced camera, a Digital Single Lens Reflect (DSLR). He did and I was excited by the option of switching lenses; so I researched which lenses would best fit my needs. Dad presented the camera to me shortly before I went on a vacation trip.
I was never without my DSLR; I shot church events, school events, and parties. Within a year I shot over 30,000 images and used up about 100 GB of online storage. In the absolute sense of the definition above, I have been obsessed with my camera and it became a ubiquitous part of me. I also began experimenting a lot and read about interesting projects people were doing. I set out to replicate their images and I a lot of fun exploring things that a camera can see that the human eye cannot see. I did high speed shots of water splashing, long exposures of a waterfall that made it look like silk, and took timed photos of the Milky Way.
My obsession with my camera and photography has made me a perfectionist of sorts. I now see the world differently. Like all specialties, I see the world in “camera talk.” When I look at a scene, I consider which lens, what f-stop, focal length, ISO, and shutter speed would best capture it. I frequently look at photos in magazines or newspapers and silently guess what settings the photographer might have used to achieve the shot.
Obsession with my camera and photography has made me a much more careful person. Photography is detailed oriented, as with all good art forms. Consequently, it has made me more detailed oriented in my everyday life, especially in school work and jobs. I credit my obsession with my camera and photography with positive lessons that can lead to success at anything that I decide to undertake. In a phrase, I believe in obsession.