When I was in my mid-twenties, I fell utterly in love with flowers and gardening, and for thirty years, that love has never wavered. Despite having “THE worst yard in Winthrop in which to garden,” I have persevered, and I begin every season with the hope that there will be enough (but not too much) rain, that the slugs and snails won’t be too bad, and ditto for the Japanese beetles. Mostly my hopes are dashed, but that’s the way it is with gardening, and I have learned to be somewhat philosophical about all the shredding jaws that want to eat my plants.
In our house, Clif is the photographer, and he has a terrific eye, if I do say so myself. (Yes, I know I’m prejudiced.) However, he doesn’t have the same zeal for flowers that I have, and sometimes I would have to coax him to take a picture of a certain flower. More than once, I thought about learning how to take pictures, but his camera—a digital one—seemed too complicated for this techno-nummy.
Then along came the little Cannon, which we bought for taking pictures of food when I was writing posts for A Good Eater. I could slip the Cannon into my pocketbook and bring it wherever I went, and for such a small camera, it took amazingly good pictures. But the chief attraction for me was that the Cannon was very simple to use. It wasn’t long before I branched out from food pictures to flower pictures and to nature pictures in general.
At first, I wasn’t very good. I’d see the beautiful flower in front of me, but I wouldn’t notice that pile of dirt nearby that was not at all photogenic. Clif helped me “see” what was really around the flower. My friends Jim and Dawna, who are also accomplished photographers, gave me some additional tips. I kept taking pictures, and I learned to not only download them but also to edit them.
After four years of taking hundreds and hundreds of pictures—maybe even thousands—I do believe I’ve improved, and I’ve decided to start making flower note cards to sell at local craft fairs. I’m also thinking of selling them on Etsy.
There is a lesson in this post. I have always thought of myself as a words and story person, not as an image person. While I’ve admired other people’s photographs, I never thought I’d be able to take good pictures. But the simple little Cannon allowed me to overcome my fear of the technology of a more complicated camera, and once I relaxed, I could see, practice, and improve.
So here’s the lesson: Don’t automatically peg yourself into a particular niche. Allow yourself to branch out, to explore, to create. What you produce doesn’t have to be great art. It can please only you or your family and friends. And with this relaxed attitude something wondrous just might happen. You will get better, until one day you will look at what you have created, and think, “Not too bad.”