I have multiple photographers in my family, and although most of them do it strictly as a hobby, I can’t deny that these people have influenced me to try to take up photography myself. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began to work on improving my skills by taking photos of different places I travel to. I remember buying a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera about two years ago, only to have it gather dust for over a year before I began to use it even semi-regularly.
For those who are curious, the camera I bought was a Nikon D5200. I’m still using that camera today, and I probably will be using it for the foreseeable future. In fact, as of this writing, all of the photos included within my blog posts were taken by yours truly using the D5200, so consider this my testing ground for my work (and a shameless plug for my photo gallery on Flickr).
While I knew that the camera would be a waste of money if I didn’t do anything with it, it was initially difficult for me to find the motivation to use it. Around the time I bought my camera, I rarely traveled, and the few times I did go anywhere noteworthy, I always forgot to bring it. Of course, that was my own fault, and I knew that my inactivity needed to change.
When I booked my trip to Japan in late 2014, I knew that this was my biggest chance yet.
I dusted off my camera and tried to refresh my memory on basic photography concepts. I looked over some pointers online, read over a camera book that my father gave me long ago, and tried taking some practice shots. I wasn’t expecting to master my camera overnight, but I figured any practice was better than nothing. By the time I boarded my plane to Tokyo, I felt a little better knowing that I wasn’t going to be struggling (as much) to get some decent photos of Japan.
In the end, I think that a trip to an exotic location was the push I needed to really get myself to use my camera again. I’ve never been to Japan previously, and there was no guarantee that I would get another chance to go back in the near future, so not taking photos there would be a huge missed opportunity. Also, over time, I’m bound to forget certain details of my trip, but my hope is that seeing these photos will help me remember where I’ve been and what I enjoyed about all of my travel experiences.
And you know what? Photography has also had a lot of indirect benefits in my life. Not only do I have photos to immortalize my travels, but it helps me connect with other people. It’s surprisingly easy to have travelling come up in casual conversation, and I’m finding more and more that photos can be a good way to connect in that regard. I remember earlier this year, I was on a business trip and having lunch with one of my clients. The subject of travel came up, and he had mentioned wanting to travel more with his significant other. I mentioned that I had gone to Japan a few years ago and showed him a few of my photos, and that helped us connect a lot better than discussing the technical considerations of the site that my company was designing for him.
Don’t get me wrong. I am no expert with a camera, but I am enjoying using one more and more. As I continue to travel, I definitely want to improve my own skills and get to the point where I can more confidently show my photos to everyone, and not just my friends and family. I know that I can keep it up, but I cannot let myself fall into the same trap as two years ago.