This is a piece I wrote for my applications, where I reflect on my year of photography and how it has changed me. Included are links to some mentioned photos that are especially close to me.
Special thanks to all of you on Tumblr, who made this journey possible and so wonderful! I couldn’t have done it without you.
One year ago, I was not a visual person. When I walked, I stared at my feet and let my vision drift out of focus. When I talked, I didn’t even think to hold eye contact. Therefore, when I obtained my humble-point-and-shoot camera as a graduation gift, I realized that I had wasted four years in Boston hardly appreciating my surroundings. I vowed to take a picture a day for a year to see if it could open my eyes.
I began to notice the beauty of familiar scenes, like the striking autumn trees towering above Harvard Yard that I walked through thousands of times yet somehow failed to appreciate. To better utilize my camera, I read about photographic concepts like white balance and bokeh, and then pored over others’ photos to see how they applied those concepts. Angles, shadows, the daily rhythm of light, I gained a subtle awareness of them all.
My little camera led me outside to explore and experiment with the natural beauty surrounding me. It showed me fresh perspectives like gazing into puddles in the streets, looking up sides of parking structures, or squinting at tiny details of my gloves. It ushered me to remarkable places like over a coastal precipice in San Francisco, through the slot canyons of Arizona, and across the white sand dunes of New Mexico.
Yet, it wasn’t enough to merely be in the right place. My camera taught me to capture those fleeting moments: a rare blackout in Harvard Yard, a child perfectly framed in bright lights, the two days when flowers bloom before leaves sprout. Photography demands patience to persevere through the wrong places, the wrong times, and the 10000 snaps that yield maybe ten worthy photographs.
Thus, my little camera has turned me into a wanderer, forever chasing the next intriguing shot. At some point, perhaps between braving one of Boston’s harshest blizzards and biking 30 miles at 2 AM, it stopped being about the pictures and more about the adventures. I love the exhilaration of the excursions I embark upon to discover these beautiful moments, and the photographs I capture become the perfect mementos.
Now, I own professional-grade lenses and act as official photographer at work. Exploring the morning fog of Santa Barbara, my first project with the new camera, has been the most exciting and successful yet. Even without my camera, I notice how people’s eyes twinkle when excited and how they crinkle when smiling. Pursuing photography has, quite literally, changed how I see the world.