Two interesting observations when I am overseas: people think that I am a musician when they see me carrying my guitar in a hard case and a photographer when they see my rather gigantic camera that is hard to go unnoticed. Fortunately, I do have a band and I do have passion in photography. And I must say, it is much easier to strike a friendly conversation as an artist than as what I do from 9 to 5.
One common observation my friends made these days – which by the way, I am sure it meant well – is that: So you have picked up photography as your new hobby?
OK, here is where the confusion sets in. Am I instantly become a photographer when I own one of those state-of-art imaging products? Or have I been a photographer so far for so passionately taking pictures wherever, whenever I can, and to share them online all these while?
My dad is a great photographer. His black and white large prints developed with his own hands inside his tiny dark room have won awards before I was born. Sometimes I wonder what I could be had I inherited his art talents on top of his genes. Then here came the babies and there went the dark room because my mom was concerned over putting the dark room chemical with our baby food inside the same refrigerator. I am telling you, babies are bad for hobbies.
Fast forward to my early teen when my dad gave me my first photography lesson. Even at that young age, I felt a tremendous pressure to be a disciple of such a great master who turns out to be my own dad. My dad set up his SLR camera on a tripod pointing it to a miniature model of a concert stage (yes, he has other talents too) and asked me to adjust the focus of the lens. Back then, there was no auto-focus and you had to turn the lens manually to obtain the right focus.
How easy that lesson one would have been but I just couldn’t set the focus. I had so many attempts that I saw my dad’s face dropped lower and lower and thinking back, what would have gone through his mind? God gives him such a great gift but his son was a complete retard in photography?
If not for that first lesson in photography, we would not have discovered that I am quite badly short-sighted. I think my mom must have attempted to resolve this deadlock between the photography master and his disciple by having my eyes examined. It is good to have a rational mind in the house. Thank you mom.
Since then, my dad and I have left things as they were. I did not go beyond lesson one and he did not talk about photography except when he brought up his war stories of how he was chased by the villagers in Hong Kong while he was going after his award winning shots. How I envy my dad. To have such great talent and execution.
My first digital camera was bought in the year of 2004. 8,000 shots are made from that day. I have bought my first dSLR camera less than 2 weeks ago. And the shutter has clicked more than 2,000 times. I think in a way, my passion in photography has been around for years. Now, I have found a better tool to articulate what I wish to capture.
So, what makes me a photographer? Is it the tool or the passion? I have no clue.