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Photography fascinated me when I was a kid. To be fair, there was much more to be fascinated about. Cameras were things of wonder with different lenses, shutter speeds and viewfinders. people used to have slide nights and show pictures of their holidays. comments would be made about light and stuff that I didn’t understand. Everyone was an expert, or so it seemed. Serious photographers had darkrooms to develop their own photos. Most serious amateurs, of which my father was certainly one, however, relied upon the services of various photo developments services. It was all a complicated process.

I declined the opportunity to pursue photography at school, largely because I despised the teacher who supervised the activity. There were other ways I could have maintained an interest but by then, I was losing interest in a lot of things. Photography became one of those things that got kicked to the curb and forgotten about.

At various times in the past quarter of a century, I’ve had opportunities to get involved again, but it never seemed important enough. I guess I was still seeing things in grey tones.

Certainly, when I was a young man, I didn’t appreciate beauty. I’d shut down a whole lot of me and didn’t want to be touched by anything that could evoke feelings of wonder or joy. I am ashamed to say that I’m still haunted by a memory of scoffing at one of my friend’s attempts to get me to explore the Grampians while we were on a camping trip at Lake Fyans. “It’s really beautiful out there,” he said. I dismissed his attempts to drag me away from the camp and informed him that there was drinking to be done. You can’t see what you don’t want to see.

Seeing things through fresh eyes

Becoming a husband and father did me the world of good. But there were still elements within me that lay buried. Bringing those elements to the surface has been a slow and at times difficult process. Little by little, I’ve been able to colour in those parts of my life that had become greyed out.

One of the most therapeutic activities that I’ve engaged in is a daily microblogging activity using the Actifit D’app. Actifit runs off the HIve blockchain and encourages you to report your daily exercise activity and rewards you with tradeable Actifit and Hive tokens. It isn’t a lot but it encourages you to remain active. Part of the process requires you to microblog what you’ve done throughout the day. To assist this process I began to take photos of where I was walking. At first, these photos seemed random. Sometimes, it would be a streetscape. On other occasions, something that seemed odd or even bizarre would stir the latent Stephen King within me to speculate on possibilities.

The more photos, I took, the more I saw that were worth taking.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m a photography expert, but I am starting to become fascinated with photography again, but in an entirely different way. Where once I was taken by the intricacy and complexity of “taking a good photo,” I’ve now become intrigued by the immediacy of following my instinct to capture something that moves me in some way. Sometimes, I can’t explain what moves me to take a photo. The answers, I suspect lie hidden in half-memories of good times that lie just out of reach.

But as I’ve become more accustomed to taking photos on a daily basis, I’ve seen and appreciated more for the “now” rather than what was.
I don’t really think about photography. If something moves me, I whip my phone out and take a picture. There’s no composition or thought, it’s just an immediate gut reaction. More often than not, the photos aren’t worth sharing.

Sometimes, I fluke something that I think is pretty special.

I’m tempted to put some of these up at Shutterstock or Pexels and to see what happens. But there’s part of me that thinks it’s best to keep what I see to myself. There’s something liberating and empowering about recognising beauty and capturing it. That moment of recognition is both personal and spiritual. I suppose that real photographers and artists know this. The commercial process is not what photography or indeed any art form is about.

I don’t know where my newfound fascination with photography (or, is it just photo journalling?) is going to take me. Nor do I care. I remember the feeling I had one day jamming with some mates when I pulled a guitar solo from nowhere. It was that capturing lightning in a bottle moment. It’s an amazing buzz. Sometimes, I get close to that feeling when I capture something with photography.

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By Mark