How Did You Get Into Photography?

July 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

On December 25, 2010, I unwrapped the present I had been greatly anticipating: a Nikon 3100, the camera I had used during my brief high school photography class. It was not my first camera (that's a story for another time) but it was my first dslr - my first nice camera.

Later that day, my father carried down a large bag from the attic, where it had been sitting unnoticed for who-knows-how-many years. It was the family heirloom camera equipment - my father's lenses, my grandfather's camera case - more than I knew what to do with. I was a complete beginner, still trying to understand what ISO is, and I had more equipment in that bag than I knew what to do with. This is the moment I often cite when asked how I got started in photography. I started because I was given the tools to begin.

Warm Winter SunWarm Winter SunA frozen lake in Maine reflects the blue sky on an unseasonably warm winter day. I resolved to take one picture every day for the next year. I think it's important to note here that I didn't finish this project. I skipped days, and stopped entirely sometime in the fall of 2011. Despite never finishing the 365 project, it was the single best thing I have ever done to improve my photography. I learned to look for subjects in everyday places, even when I thought I'd exhausted the list of things I could photograph in my dorm room. I learned how to use photoshop to create the image I wanted, and I learned not to rely on photoshop to fix your problems. After a corrupted memory card lost almost a hundred pictures, I learned to back up my data. I also learned the importance of charging your camera battery before going to a photoshoot. The daily schedule of the project gave me routine where I often had none, and I learned to push myself to complete something even when I didn't think I could. And, of course, by posting every image online, I learned what sort of pictures people like to look at, and what is going to get radio silence.

When I told my roommate about the 365 project, she volunteered as a subject. Neither of us knew where this would lead - she later became my most-frequently photographed model, and our collaborative projects have become some of my favorite pieces of my portfolio. After a few months with one model and innumerable pictures of campus, someone else volunteered. She was a dancer, and needed some pictures for auditions. I leaped at the opportunity, and soon I was planning shoots with her, with her friends, with the dance department at my school. The 365 project gained its own momentum, and soon I had a small but vocal group of people who would happily volunteer for any project I suggested. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

The 365 project eventually came to an end when I began to take on more ambitious shoots. I planned my "Seven Heavenly Sins" series, and the many moving parts of a complex artistic project (plus my overly ambitious course schedule) took over the time the 365 had occupied. The start of "Seven Heavenly Sins" is a pretty clear marker of when my ambitions in regard to photography took a step to the next level. I was no-longer photographing everything in my dorm room; I was creating conceptual images which connected to each other to tell a story.

Within one year of receiving my camera, I had taken the next big step toward becoming Annushka Munch Photography.

Gunshot to the HeadGunshot to the Head

Of course, that year was not perfect - far from it. That was the year when I was (finally) diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, due in no small part to my first major panic attack at the end of spring semester. The diagnosis was a relief - it meant, in some way, that it was real - but it also required a shifting of my self-image. I had to re-define myself as someone with a mental illness.

When I talk about my art, I often talk about it, abstractly, in relation to my Anxiety. Photography is one of the ways that I can get my mind off of things when I am restless or upset. Without something creative to do, I become restless and self-destructive. Picking up a camera and going for a walk takes my mind off all sorts of things, and that was probably one of the ways I managed to get through the end of my sophomore year of college. I didn't know it, but I was self-medicating Anxiety with art.


No comments posted.

January February March April May (2) June (1) July (1) August September (1) October (1) November December (1)
January February March (1) April May June (1) July (1) August September October November (1) December
January (1) February (1) March April May June July August September October (1) November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December