Photography has always been something I regarded as a hobby I could carry into retirement and continue until close to the moment I depart from this world. I figure that as long you can see, you can take photographs.
Seeing to me is a big part of this hobby. Not so much seeing. Most everybody sees. Observing. Trying to see beyond the obvious. Making connections in color, contrast, lines, composition, the juxtaposition of things, of people. Appreciating the light and how it changes during the day, varies with the seasons and can surprise you even when you thought you'd seen it all.
But also the connection with other people, whether it's a stranger in a foreign town who you ask to photograph or meeting a young model full of dreams, of career plans and a totally different take on life than your own.
The challenge of creating your own light in a studio, that never-ending attempt to know exactly how light behaves and the everlasting pursuit of something close to perfection in pose, shadows and atmosphere.
We have a friend who is in her mid-eigthies. She divides her time between Athens and New York and often visits Rome, a city she loves. Wherever she goes, she walks for many hours in different neighborhoods taking pictures. She still sells to some stock agencies. She taught herself Photoshop at an advanced age. I admire her. I hope I will be like her if - hopefully - and when I reach her age.
Too often we talk about gear. But gear will always be there. Gear doesn't determine how much joy we have in the pure aspects of photography, those that come down to the core elements that existed before cameras were invented, those that can be found in any art museum in the world. Light, and how to capture it, play with it, learn from it.
I never planned to write this post, but yesterday I dislocated my kneecap and now find myself largely immobile for a few days to a week and with limited mobility for some time longer, probably.
That forces a rethink. I'm on crutches. So, forget about carrying heavy stuff or anything in my hands. Forget about taking long walks, wandering around a town, a city, a park.
I had all these plans. Fujifilm sent me a X-Pro 1 and some lenses that I planned to work with. I have some other lenses I got recently that I haven't really tried yet. I was going to go out and use that stuff.
Now I have to postpone much of the going out for a week or so, but of course I can still click a shutter button. I can still observe. I'm thinking of going around the house and looking for things I didn't notice before. I should take more pictures of our daily lives, pictures that are often more dear to me over time than a well-composed landscape. I have to persuade the children to pose a bit, something that can be a challenge now that they're in their teens. I can explore macro photography, something I've always found fascinating, but never really tried.
The main thing, though, is that photography doesn't have to end as you grow older or meet some physical challenges.
New York, 2013
It makes me think about the older men I sometimes see at model photography group shoots. The ones I've encountered generally don't socialize with the others, but they shoot just like the rest. Some of them have shaky hands and make me wonder if they can get any picture without camera shake. But what does it matter?
As long as they enjoy this hobby, enjoy the demands photography - serious photography - puts on you, that's enough. That makes you more alive. This is a hobby that takes you through all ages.
By John van Rosendaal