For the past few years Gerry and I have been talking about taking up photography together as a retirement hobby. He has a background in the craft that goes back to his original 35mm camera, actual film, and developing his own photos. Me, I cut my early photography teeth on my mom’s Kodak Instamatic.
Recently, as part of our early retirement planning, we both purchased new high-end Canon DSLRs and now we’re taking a photography class together–two classes actually–one on the technical aspect of the craft (shutter speeds, apertures, ISO settings etc.) and the other on the art of photography.
The other evening as we sat in the technical class looking at examples on the big screen and learning about the best settings to use for portrait photography I found myself becoming frustrated with all the talk about 1/60 being the minimum shutter speed when using the camera without a tripod, and the difference between F8 and F11 aperture.
I’m a word person not a number person! I lamented to Gerry on the way home, feeling like I should be put in a remedial photography class as I struggled to internalize the concepts. I’m used to being one of the best students not the one who just doesn’t get it, I whined.
He just smiled, offered encouraging words, and promised to be my personal tutor on the lessons I felt like I was rapidly falling behind in. I appreciated his willingness to help, but now it’s personal and I’m determined to figure this stuff out on my own. (Stubborn? Who me?)
The art of photography class threatened to be my undoing last week as I struggled with the assignment we were given: abstract. Abstract? What in the world is an abstract photograph? What are the rules around taking a good photograph of something in the abstract? I’ve since learned that there are no rules in abstract photography–that’s why it’s called abstract–but I’m the kind of person who needs rules.
I Googled it, I tried various things, and as the date drew nearer for when we were supposed to send our photographs to the instructor I grew more anxious with every day I failed to produce a photograph I’d feel comfortable sending to the instructor.
Here’s the thing. We weren’t just sending him our photographs for a private critique. Oh no. Our photographs would be displayed on a screen in front of the entire class and we’d discuss them. No pressure there, right?
I laid awake at night trying to come up with ideas; I snapped some interesting images from within my shower; I crawled around on my hands and knees outside; I pulled objects out of cupboards and arranged and rearranged them; I went outside barefoot on my pajamas to catch the first morning light; I took photo after photo trying to come up with something I could use.
Gerry, on the other hand, had his homework done the next day.
Finally, in desperation and just wanting the whole thing to be over, I settled on two abstract photographs to share with the class.
I survived last night’s class, it went pretty well actually. I enjoyed seeing the creative things people came up with relating to their assigned topics and both Gerry and I received good feedback on our photographs–just enough encouragement to allow me to feel a measure of anticipation about the subjects I chose in a random drawing for this week.
Tires. And honey.
And I thought I was going to have less stress in retirement.