Sometimes I would take my time, slow down a little bit, and look back at some of the photographs I have taken during my early days with my first few cameras. I wanted to see how I have progressed, but at the same time, remind myself why I picked up the camera in the first place.
I picked up my first compact camera, a Kodak CX7300 in the year of 2004 during my 3rd year of university studies in Perth, simply with the purpose to record down memories. I wanted to keep some memories of that good plate of noodle I ate, that breathtaking sunrise or that great friend I want to remember. Soon after my first few experimentations with the basic compact camera (3MP, no zoom, no macro mode, no Autofocus, no nothing, seriously), I find myself wanting something more capable. Being en engineering student, I was craving for more controls, hence I moved on to Kodak CX7430 (4MP, 3x zoom, macro mode, some basic manual controls such as long exposure and ISO setting), and subsequently Kodak C875 (advanced point and shoot, 8MP, 5x zoom, and full PASM manual controls). Those were my early years in photography, before diving into the world of DSLR with Olympus. They all died on me due to my heavy usage and... ermm.. torture.
Photograph taken by Chun Chow.
That was a silhouette of me. This has remained one of my favourite photograph over the years, and Chun Chow was one of the important friends who inspired to pick up photography and ventured into the world of DSLR with Olympus.
War Memorial, Kings Park, a place where I frequent a lot.
South Perth, view from Kings Park. By the way, that is a river. At first I thought it was the ocean because the other side seems so FAR away !! Those tiny white dots on the water are yacths sailing.
Me, Sarah and Thiam at Fast Eddies, having supper in the middle of the night.
Orchard Glory Farm, sunrise view. I was at Overseas Christian Fellowship Winter Camp 2006. We had freshly plucked apples and oranges.
Perth City View from Matilda Bay at Sunrise. I could not sleep one night, and I decided to walk to this river side (yes it was a river, NOT an ocean, crazy right?) and took some sunrise shots. It was winter.
Photo of me taken via self-timer, camera on tripod, immediately after the previous sunrise shot.
It was rather interesting looking back at my old photographs. There were no complications, there were less dramas in the images. The photographs I took were straightforward, and very direct. I saw something I liked, and I would just point the camera at that and snapped. No hassle of setting up the camera, or thinking about the right composition, or lighting tricks, or worry too much about noise and distortion in the image. Heck, anything at ISO200 was so full of noise, and dynamic range of the cameras were seriously horrendous. It was funny how I did not complain about such things back then, yet I still continued clicking the shutter away and enjoyed myself thoroughly through my early years with camera shooting. I did not exactly made many beautiful photographs. I admit there were nothing artistic, or technically strong in those pictures. Even though the photographs were nothing praise-worthy, they all meant a great deal to me, because they represented fragments of memory I had left, something I bring with me. The images were like windows to the past, that I can open and take a peek into. Those still moments are priceless.
I used to carry the compact camera everywhere I go to. I had a little pouch which I would sling around, and I would attack anything that caught my attention. I do admit my photography skills were laughable with those compact cameras. One thing remained true however, I have always been passionate about shooting. I sucked, but step by step, I improved. Those three compact cameras have trained me to be patient and consistent. They have taught me to keep an eye out for photography opportunities at all times. They were my first loves. They did not create any award-winning photographs, but they steered me to the right direction in photography. I learned so much, and grew over the four long years with those cameras. Those were merely entry-level budget compact cameras, but they prepared me for something greater to come.
Matilda Bay, where all the white boats and yachts are at. Yes the waters are naturally blue at Perth. Did I say that was a river? It was Swan River. Yes, there were real swans swimming there.
Structural Dynamics. Uni life was, rather depressing sometimes.
Church friends, Jae-Ann and Jon. Miss them dearly.
Culture shock. I did not realize how HUGE the Zinger burger was in Perth in comparison to the ones we find in Malaysia. Seriously....
Kings Park. I love to just walk to this park (an hour slow walk) from the place where I stayed and just relax there.
Flowers just randomly grow everywhere during spring. This was taken at the roadside outside the place I used to stay in Park Road.
Sony DSC T1
Taken by a friend, a group photo of my residential college mates. We had plenty of crazy times.
Why am I ranting about past experiences and dead cameras?
Perhaps I have been questioning myself a lot lately about how I have been pushing myself to improve further and seeing things more differently in photography. I have been going through some thought-changing experiences after meeting up with many different people who all have different principles and vision in photography. While I do have my own stand, sometimes I cannot help but admire and respect a few other more experienced photographers who had so much to share, though their ideas may clash with mine. In the midst of all the conflict and mind battles, I was in the struggle to find that inner peace and the "right" direction to guide me towards improving myself further in this journey in photography. I do not want to stay stagnant, and I certainly do not want to take too many steps back. Therefore, I started to trace back my roots and recall why I started photography in the first place. Simply, to record memories. To capture moments. To keep the pieces of lifes that I want to remember.
If it was worth remembering, if it was worth keeping, if it was worth looking again, if it was worth sharing with someone else, it was surely worth photographing !!
That was why my photographs back then were so simple, yet they spoke out directly at me. They meant something. They had strong subject content. They may be badly lit, or wrongly composed, or not having all the proper technicality setup, but they were real photographs, taken with pure honesty. I took them with a clear purpose.
I think probably I was trying too hard lately. To find that "wow" factor. To find something new and fresh, to create something out of the ordinary. I mean, if I cannot stand out from the crowd, my photographs would just be like the millions of other photographs floating motionless around the cyber-space, right? Why bother add in more to what have already been dreadfully overly-crowding the whole Internet? Seeking to be unique, and at the same time stressing to push the creative boundaries have made me a better photographer, improving in baby steps, but sometimes, I do feel I have tried too hard. Shouldn't photography be stress-free? Shouldn't photography be about self-pleasure? The conflict is there, and I want to go back to the moment I fell in love with photography.
Something a friend, Aidan wrote on my door in the residential college.
Perth CBD at night. Taken at Kind's Park, near war memorial.
Now this photograph was an important turning point in my photography life. I decided to go serious, and got myself a tripod, then walked an hour up the hill (no street lights, at night) and my first long exposure experimentation. I was really proud of this shot.
Mooncake Festiavl, playing lanterns at War Memorial.
Japanese girls came over to make home-cooked Japanese dinner. How can I forget that night?
Cottesloe Beach, I still can't believe how blue the water is.
Sorrento Quay, near AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia).
Taken by Chun Chow.
Looking through some of the old photographs, they did bring nostalgic moments, and I can't help but shed a few tears. There were places that I have missed so much, there were friends that I would give anything to see them once more, and of course, Perth has become a huge part of my life, no matter how much I try to leave it behind. It has been quite a while since I last said anything about Perth in this blog. I have not forgotten how heavy my heart was when I left it, throwing everything behind. Should I, or should I not look back? Things were so much easier back then. Life was a lot more peaceful and calm.
Kodak cameras, wonderful creatures those are. Faithful and unfulfillable colours, beautiful flash color balance and very consistently pleasing overall output.
Why did you pick up that camera in the first place? What was your purpose of photography at that moment? Did you remember the joy of your early times clicking that camera? Do tell !!