Thirty years ago I contemplated turning a love into a career. To get things going I enrolled into a photography course at Photography Studies College (PSC) Melbourne and got a job at Michael's Camera & Video, Melbourne. I was going to become a professional photographer. Stars in my eyes, passion in my heart.
Didn't get far. Got as far as Castlemaine actually. PSC organised a weekend away there to explore bits and pieces of the art of photography. Surrounded by 'arty' types off I went. Pretty soon I felt out of my depth. I was, am, bit of a bogan. Love footy, going to the pub with friends, drink beer, and chase the fairer sex. I was a regular guy. Nothing special. No obvious talent for anything. Why did I think I was a 'creative'? Maybe because my mum was an artist, and my five siblings all were too, in their own ways. Surely, I had it in me too. Well this trip made me and my fragile ego feel I was kidding myself. God, there were some REALLY creative types there, proper artists. They spoke of light, shadow, contrast, perspective, juxtaposition, metaphors, colour balance, white balance, dynamic range and a thousand other things I had never heard of. I had a camera and a lot of self doubt.
That camera was AMAZING, to me, but not high end medium format or anything sexy like that. I'd look for things that caught my eye. Think about my settings and press the shutter. The camera, to my surprise, took some keepers. It felt great in my hands. Nice weight, goldilocks style, not too heavy and not too light. It was easy to operate. The lenses were lovely. It was a Canon AE1 Program and it could also bounce.
Yep, bounce. Back somewhere in the bushy outskirts of Castlemaine, I was surrounded by classmates and feeling a little flat and inadequate, after a full day of shooting. I was distracted packing up my gear, considering my life and poor career choices. I remember feeling like I was starting another thing I was going to be crap at...I had just come out of, what was, by any measure, an ordinary six years as a police officer. I placed the camera on the roof of my car and left it there. Jumped into the car and hit the accelerator. It was a hot summer's day. My window was down. I heard a metallic 'clunking' sound. I knew what it was straight away but looked in the rear vision mirror anyway. Confirmed, the AE1 was bouncing down the road. Bugger.
Imaging the worst, I hung a u-ey, pulled up alongside the camera, swung the door open, gently picked it up and inspected the damage. I also, vainly, had a glance around to see how many of the proper artists had witnessed what I had done. By the look on their faces I am sure they all had. Oh well. Looking back at the camera. I fired off a couple of shots, advanced the film, checked glass and movement of all the bits and pieces. EVERYTHING appeared okay! I couldn't believe it, a couple of scratches and some damage to my pride. Wow, Canon had just earned themselves a fan for life. Shortly after, I hung up my 'boots' and called time on my photography 'career', but, the dream never left me. Fast forward to 10 years ago, and, here I am now, still shooting with Canon, and working full time as a professional photographer. Still pinching myself at how lucky I am.