It’s a simple word. Only three letters long but because of it there are endless possibilities and connections which can resonate within us all. Joy can come in many forms. It can be the first time you view a beautiful sunrise. It can be your first time you hear powerful melodies in a piece of music. It can be the roar of a stadium full of people cheering their team. It can be meditative. It can be silent. In this case joy is simply a single picture, this picture, a beautiful rose in bloom.
At first glance there’s nothing spectacular about this picture. By no means am I diminishing its beauty or the amazing colors it contains. It’s a good shot but not one to be the catalyst of a new artistic revolution. This being the case it is still one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen. Why you may ask?
This is the picture and the moment I experienced a childlike joy in discovering the capabilities of my camera.
I love taking pictures. It is beyond a hobby for me. It is almost as if with each time I pick up my camera I’m taking an adventure. With each adventure I move forward with a childlike wonder and joy that has never diminished. I want to tell a story. I want to capture a feeling. I want to look at the resulting picture and confidently know it shows exactly what I felt as I closed the shutter.
For a while I was successful at capturing my passion using a point and shoot camera. It was a constant on my travels. A slogan for a credit card company once stated “…Never leave home without it.” This indeed began to ring true for my camera. I would take pictures of any and everything. It didn’t matter what it was or if I got it right or wrong. The action of taking pictures brought me immense joy and I just loved what I was doing. As my comfort level grew so too did my perspective. I wanted to further capture what I was looking at not just with my eyes but also with my mind as well. I wanted the colors to be more vibrant, the details to be sharper and the image to truly stand out. This could only mean one thing. I had to upgrade my camera.
So off I went to do research on new digital cameras. Like a kid with a shopping spree cart in Toys R Us I just couldn’t be stopped. I eventually settled on a Canon DSLR and ordered it online. Even though I knew exactly when my camera would arrive I was still bursting at the seams with anticipation. On the day my camera arrived I met the delivery man at the door. Think back to Christmas as a child with the one gift that stood out among all the gifts in your childhood. This was me with my new camera and the unbridled joy of opening the gift you always hoped for. I remember everything like it was yesterday.
I was overjoyed with my purchase. I had a new digital camera and the world to shoot. Like most new digital camera users I relied heavily on using the automatic settings. These settings produced great pictures but I still wanted to learn more. I wanted to fully figure my camera and understand its capabilities. To further understand my camera I researched what went into each of the automatic settings and tried to see if I could reproduce this using manual mode.
Fast forward to an outdoor birthday party was in attendance for. I happened to have my camera on me so I decided to use it for some practice shots. I took a picture of the rose above in Close-Up (Macro) Mode. I then switched over to manual mode, changed some settings and took the same picture again. The result was pure joy. I did it! I couldn’t believe I did it! I manually produced a picture almost equal to its “auto-setting” counterpart. I took another picture and another. Each picture was better than the first. It ignited a sense of accomplishment within me. My discovery opened my eyes. In doing so it also showed I was only scratching the surface of what was possible.
Now I shoot mainly in manual mode. I research, I tinker and I do the process all over again to chase that perfect shot. Each time I grab my camera it’s with the joy and excitement of the first day I took it out of the box. This joy is what makes me get up at 4:30 am to be in position for a beautiful sunrise. This joy is what makes me think more visually. It’s what makes me drive an hour to a spot in the city for a shot lasting only 20 minutes because the lighting is just right at that time.
This joy is not only felt by me but others as well when they see my pictures. It’s there each time a friend wants to know where I took a ‘great shot’. It’s there when a client is just beaming with the results of my hard work. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment that I also pass down to my daughter. She constantly sees me working with my camera. She sees the behind the scenes work, the intense focus and the joy with the resulting shot. One day I told her I was going to take pictures and she jumped up with excitement exclaiming “I’m going too!”
My passion has evolved. Now it includes Daddy-Daughter time spent taking pictures of any and everything. The point and shoot camera I mentioned before? It’s the camera she now uses to take her own pictures. It’s precious, this time we spend together. The perspective I’m getting from what she sees through her lens is priceless. I’m able to see her intense focus and the excitement she can’t contain when she sees her own great shot.
Joy. It’s a simple word. Only three letters complete the word. I still experience this each time I pick up my camera. But the feeling I get when my daughter is excited to take pictures with daddy…now that’s pure joy.
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