A number of years ago, I studied journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. I had applied to a variety of graduate schools to study either journalism or creative writing. I chose journalism, although my heart was in creative writing.
Once I was in journalism school, I was happy with my choice, for the most part. I had to decide a specialty within the journalism field. After my first semester, I discovered the career that I most dearly wanted: film critic. I love going to movies and becoming a part of the world as presented on the screen. I couldn’t imagine a better career than spending hours in the movie theater and then writing reviews of the movies.
There were a few things that I ruled out, which included advertising (because I was far too shy to try to sell ads over the phone or even in person), investigative reporting (because it just seemed too difficult and analytical for me), and public relations. But, most of all, I did not want to be a photographer. I did not want to carry around a large and heavy camera since I didn’t have a car. I didn’t want to learn how to use film and I most definitely did not want to attempt to develop my own photographs.
So I did not become a photographer.
Unfortunately, I also did not become a film critic. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to review live theater, which I truly enjoyed. Oddly enough, despite my antipathy for being a photographer, I have the opportunity to review photography exhibits, as well as other types of visual arts.
When I became a freelance reporter for the Island Dispatch, I was told that I had to take all of my own photographs. Having someone else assigned to take pictures to go with my stories was not going to happen. I dutifully bought a disposable camera and took a whole bunch of photographs. I started turning in photographs with my articles. My editor told me that she really liked the photographs. I was very surprised because I had never had any training in photography. Apparently, the classes that I had been taking in drawing and painting were helping me as a photographer.
Eventually, I bought a digital camera. The camera was small and fit into a pocket. I didn’t have to get the photographs developed if I didn’t like them. I began photographing virtually everything that I saw: scenery, people, food, my own artwork, other people’s artwork, the cats, and more. One digital camera had taken me from a photo-phobe to a photo-maniac.
My photographs now appear frequently in the newspaper and here in my blog. I have become fascinated with the art of photography as a way of capturing and sharing the essence of other people and of the world in which I live. Although I never chose photograph, it may very well have chosen me. I am very happy that I have become an accidental photographer.