I always knew I wanted something more from life - photography helped me find it.
It’s World Photography Day! A day where the world can appreciate the photographic practice and people can share their love for the craft. Photography remains one of the most important tools we have as a global society. On so many levels it educates, allows us to reflect, allows us to understand, gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. It helps people love themselves and lets people show others how much they’re loved. For me (and millions of others) photography was more than just making pretty pictures. It was a philosophy, an identity, and it changed my life.
Firstly, forgive me if this is more of a stream of consciousness, rather than a well thought out piece. I’m three coffees deep and have to dedicate rational thought to my actual job - the one that pays the bills. But I felt like I wanted to write something, considering what day it is. And also, it has felt like an age since I actually blogged just for the thrill of it.
Let me take you on a quick trip down memory lane. I grew up relatively poor. I say relative because, after visiting countries like Guatemala and India, I realized I was never poor at all. But for English standards, I was about as close to the bottom as you could get. A broken home, unconventional family structure, and no real sense of what my place was in the world, I was the cliche kid from the block who people didn’t expect too much from.
Most of the people I grew up with have either been in prison or addicted to drugs. I myself have had my own past with narcotics, thankfully I was headstrong enough to move past it. But I knew from an early age that I wanted more from life, I just had to figure out a way to get it.
I had always been fascinated with exploring. I knew there was a world beyond the one I started in. Sadly, I didn’t go on my holidays as a child - but I knew one day I would see this world.
Time to Make a Change
I’d say the first 30 years of my life were difficult. Childhood experience led to depression, anxiety, and a whole host of insecurities I struggled to find a way out of. I tried many creative paths, from DJing to stand up comedy, but it just seemed my physiological makeup led me back to dead-end jobs, just scraping by, living a life void of internal confidence.
In 2012, I picked up a camera. I was hooked. In 2015, then 27 years old, I sat on my couch having a moment of self-reflection. I was tired of allowing my past to dictate my present. I was tired of being angry, tired of being anxious, and tired of not reaching my potential. I was done with blaming everybody but myself and decided it was time to take clear action and responsibility for my future. I wasn’t a child anymore, I had full control - so I bought a camera.
I set myself a five-year plan. The goal was simple: Do what you love by the time you’re 32. That’s how old I am now.
Finally, my camera gave me a purpose and my photos gave me an identity.
Making the Dream Come True
I continued working jobs I didn’t like. Staying at the bottom of the corporate ladder as I remained determined to get something more from this life. I used my money to go on short trips abroad, getting a taste of the travel life.
People laughed at me when I told them my goal was to travel the world and take pictures. “Why don’t you try to get a manager job instead.” I ignored the mocking, took the digs, and remained determined to live out my dreams.
Five years later, here we are. I’ve been traveling the world, making pictures, earning money, and living my dream, for almost three years now. From New York, New Delhi, Bangkok, and more, I’ve got to experience so many different people and cultures, and the impact it has had on me as a person is something I’m grateful for. At the center of all that, have been my camera and my photos. Without them, this life doesn’t happen - I’m almost certain of that.
My Love for Photography and People
I have thousands of photos, 99% of them contain people, and 95% of them I’ve never spoken a word to. But I love all my subjects, all my interactions with the world through my lens. They mean so much to me, and most of them don’t even realize it.
My lifestyle, living out of two bags, having no idea what the next chapter looks like, isn’t for everyone. But it’s certainly for me. Since turning 30 I’ve never been happier, and again, I owe so much of that to photography.
Even right now, during these challenging times we face as humanity, photography remains present. I don’t go out and shoot as I would like to, but I still have many pictures. I’m currently in Medellin, Colombia. I’ve taken pictures of people during this time and just like the other characters in my story, they will be loved and valued for a lifetime - especially with how sensitive this has been.
Photography is my constant. It let me see the world, and will be with me as I go and see more, learn more, and live more.
I have no trouble saying to photograph, “I love you.” It changed my life.
Happy World Photography Day!