Reflection on photography
I was single, in my twenty’s and loved travel and photography. It was 2009 and I was working a job I hated, in a nothing, shit part of town for people I despised. I was also battling with depression which I won’t go into, suffice to say life was awful back then. I worked for a travel company, the single and only perk of the job was a one-time-only offer from the wonderful people at Singapore Airlines to fly return to Singapore from London for £50. Add on a return flight to Vietnam from there and it came to just over £200 all up. Not bad by any measure.
I travelled alone, always, the best way to go. I had a backpack, my camera and one lens. Fuck London, fuck the job, I was off to live and leave all the crap, and those fuckers, behind.
Despite my growing interest in photography, and what I now know was the documentary aspect, but didn’t then, I was pretty crap with the camera, so to speak. Photography like all things takes time to master, both artistically (if even possible) and technically. I’ve always been a self-critical artist and designer and just felt I couldn’t take the pictures I wanted.
Fast forward to today, looking through photos I took in Vietnam, it struck me, that they weren’t bad at all. Perhaps it’s that I was not-yet-formed as a photographer back then and just tried too hard, thought too much. The more I look at them now, the more I appreciate them, they seem effortless now. Of course, there are still terrible ones, but maybe sometimes all it takes is time to mature as an artist to better understand and appreciate.
I’m sure I can’t be the only photographer/artist who is self-critical. Who knows ... perhaps, it’s because I now study photography and have matured, perhaps. Certainly, the effort to do ‘good’ photography is less of a thing now.
Footnote: I travelled to Vietnam in April 2009. It's a beautiful country and with lovely friendly people who tolerate tourism (and tourists) well. My fondest memories are travelling the country on the backs of motorcycles and by old trains, the tropical rain (it reminded me of home), eating dog from a street hawker with the locals, the living off of my wits that comes with solo travel and the freedom of the road.