When I think back to the initial spark that ignited my passion for photography and all things photographic, it takes me to my childhood—and to a specific moment when I was eleven years old. Outside my suburban Montreal apartment building, my two best friends, Andre and Roger, were devouring a Direct Film catalog (a Canadian retail film processing company) with geeky excitement. I quickly joined them in their enthusiasm.
Image Caption (above): Sunset, from the roof of my apartment building on Ward Street in Montreal. Captured on GAF 500
“An image has the power to move people, to enlighten, inform, entertain and transform light and time into something tangible. Images can change the world. This is what The Passionate Photographer Blog is all about. If you’ve ever been disappointed by the gap between the picture you envisioned and the one you actually got, this space will close it for you.”
There was page after page of cool-looking cameras decorated with buttons and knobs. I have to admit, it wasn’t photography as an instrument for social change that I was thinking about. I was enamored with the camera as this beautiful artifact that I wanted to own.
The object of my desire? A Russian goddess called the “Zenit E.” It was the beauty of this intricate tool with all its magic dials, plus the fact that, at $79, it was within the financial realm of a newspaper boy’s salary. With an interest in journalism, I had spent my first summer’s savings on a Smith Corona manual typewriter and was about to spend my life’s savings on a tool that would save me from typing a thousand words every time I clicked the shutter. It turned out to be my greatest investment.
My enthusiasm for the process could not be contained when I finally bought my first camera, a Yashica TL Electro X (which I ultimately chose over the Zenit). Every day, I climbed to the roof of my apartment building on Ward Street in Montreal to photograph the beautiful sunsets and planes making their approach into Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport (then called Dorval). I don’t remember consciously thinking that I would someday like to be on the planes I photographed and see the world with my camera, but that’s what happened, and in retrospect, it was what I had dreamed of.
I thought about the people on those jet airliners and speculated on who they were and where the came from. The camera was my ticket to achieving my dreams of travel to experience the people and cultures of far-away lands. I realized the camera changed the way I saw the world around me. Of course my eyes were always open, but with a camera It felt like I was truly seeing for the first time. Photographic gifts were out there, everywhere, in unlimited supply and free for the taking. I also knew that I had stumbled upon something I would never get tired of. Photography was not only educational and rewarding, but it was fun and a way for a shy kid to communicate and share his vision and passions with the world.
“This is the gift of photography, a life-long love affair that only grows stronger.”
It has been a lot of years since then, and so much has changed. Yet my enthusiasm for photography has only grown more intense with every passing year. This too is the gift of photography, a life-long love affair that only grows stronger. If you’re reading this, you’re at least on a first date, but I suspect you know from where I speak.
I have owned many cameras over the years and have experienced the paradigm shift from analog to digital. Even with this dramatic transformation, important concepts of photography have remained the same. It’s the content that counts the most.
An image has the power to move people, to enlighten, inform, entertain and transform light and time into something tangible. Images can change the world. This is what The Passionate Photographer Blog is all about. If you’ve ever been disappointed by the gap between the picture you envisioned and the one you actually got, this space will close it for you.
Looking back at 30 years of photography, I have culled from my experiences the best ways to help you become a better photographer. This section of the blog puts forward a wealth of ideas and creative solutions which every photographer will add their unique vision to. My goal is to draw out the personal vision of every reader, encouraging the unique way of looking at the world we all possess but don’t always have the confidence to pursue.
There has never been a better time to pursue photography. We are in a new golden era. My passion is ignited, much like it was when my friends and I pored through that camera catalog, dreaming of following that new camera into the adventures that came with it. If you read this blog and make serious attempts at the suggestions I put forth here, I promise you will become a better photographer and your passion-fire for photography will ignite.
The shadow of my plane en route to Nairobi; my Nikon and I, off on another adventure. © Steve Simon