I am a Photographer.
I was thirteen when I asked for a camera. I started saving my babysitting money in a wooden box I kept in my dad's closet. Out of site, out of mind. I remember when I had $200 saved. How excited I was, and yet I knew I was so far away from my camera. But the stars aligned and my uncle surprised me with an ugly grey camera bag, stuffed with my grandfather's old Canon AE-1.
We spent the afternoon fiddling around with it. My uncle explaining how to load the film, how the meter worked, and how to take care of it. He left me with 2 fresh batteries, a 3 pack of film, and I had the whole world in my hands. I spent the summer photographing everyday things and each week I would ride my bike up to IGA to drop off my film and eagerly await its arrival. That $200 I had saved went towards film and processing. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure how I would have afforded the film once I'd saved for the camera. I suppose it was all meant to be.
Lucky for me, for some reason I have yet to fully understand, my dad fully supported this hobby of mine and paid to send me to photo classes that winter. It was mostly just sitting in a dark room (not a darkroom) with old men and flipping through slides. Nevertheless, it felt important. I thought of myself as the Harriet the Spy of photography. I wanted to see and know everything. I wanted to capture the whole world.
While I have gone through waves with my personal work of photography (turning your hobby into a business has a way of wringing you dry at times), I can honestly say it has been the one constant thing that has always been mine. Something I've held deep in my bones and that still can make we want to jump out of bed and start exploring. Even when I don't have a camera in hand, I notice the pockets of light, the colors it's casting, the contrast which would appear should I be shooting with black and white film. It's something I don't always even notice I am doing until I find myself wishing I could simply blink and capture exactly what I am seeing at that very moment.
It's moments like that, that remind me that I'm not just a photographer in the sense that this is what I do for a living. I am a photographer because it's who I am.