I’m not a photographer. I own a basic camera with a simple zoom and little else. I snap, rather than take photographs. A point and click kind of person.
In the early 1990s I started a subscription to the National Geographic. I love the wildlife photos – the exotic scenes of distant lands. I cut them out and pinned them to the board above my bed. (I lived in a woman’s hostel at the time in the centre of London and that was my private space).
I kept subscribing for years and when I ran out of shelf space, I threw the issues away, but not after going through them all and removing the odd pages I liked best.
When I lived in London, I would visit the National History Museum. At some point, I don’t remember exactly when, I came across a temporary exhibition of an annual competition – the Wildlife Photographer of the Year – glorious pictures of nature by amateur and professional photographers arranged under categories, like urban, behaviour, mammals, birds, etc. I hung around, rather awed by the images.
Whenever the exhibition tours the country, I would make the effort to see the photographs. I think I’ve seen 3 or 4 exhibitions. With the internet you can glimpse them on the screen, although it doesn’t compete with the full scale portrait. Even the children’s competition is outstanding.
I wish I could take a decent photograph, but I don’t have the patience or inclination to invest in expensive cameras, nor to understand the impact of light or composition. I do draw and I like to use photographs as fodder. Every time I see a new set of WPY photos, I itch to draw.
It’s been a long time since I sharpened my pencils.
These days I write and I’m writing about a photographer and an artist.
I suspect something took root in me a long time ago and stayed there, waiting. Is that the foundation of a book? Forgotten or mediocre hobbies? Things I can appreciate, but will never excel at doing?