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Dear the photographer I was once was, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. For a long time, I neglected you. I wrote you off as merely a stepping stone to the photographer I am today. I belittled you and told others I’m embarrassed about you. I’d even proclaim I was delighted you didn’t exist anymore and that it’s for the greater good that you’re a thing of the past. But I was wrong. Really wrong. And in this letter, I’m going to tell you why.
The Evolving Photographer Vs. Improving Photographer
As photographers, we’re often encouraged to constantly evolve. So there’s pressure on us to do better and to be better. And that’s great. Because by doing better, we’re able to create photographs of a higher standard. Everyone wants to improve, right? But there’s a difference between evolving and improving.
Do I make technically better images than I did five years ago? I think so. But I’m not the same photographer. And while looking through my archives, I realized how much I miss you, the photographer I used to be.
“So, the photographer I once was, I want to tell you I long to reconnect with you. I need you to know I’m eternally grateful for you, and I’m no longer ashamed of you.”
The Fearless Photographer
Back then, you were fearless. You had a level of enthusiasm and energy that came with the thirst of a photographer who wanted to learn. No subject or experience was off-limits. If someone called you to shoot, you’d be right there—cameras, lenses, and excitement all in toe.
If there were a cause, a protest, something worth fighting for, you’d be in the middle of the crowd, getting down low and documenting the events. Then, when it was your day off work, you’d say no to social events and pick up your camera instead. You’d never sleep in. In fact, you’d get up earlier than on a workday to go out and create images. You were hungry, all day, every day.
The Photographer I am Today
Today, the photographer I am is a little different. I’m more calculated with when I shoot and what I shoot. In many ways, this is a good thing, and it’s led to an overall improvement in the quality of images I make. But it’s also true to say I’m a little more cynical than I was and a little less enthusiastic about getting out there and shooting.
More so, as a result of my technical advancements, I’ve somehow lost the rawness that came with the photographer I was in the past. I’m too picky with my photo selections, too quick to right off the imperfections.
And my focus has changed too. As I told you, if there was something worth fighting for, I’d be in the heart of it. Now, I sarcastically think to myself, “oh, great, another protest.” And I’m happy to keep my camera on the shelf, sacrificing shooting and opting to go hang out with friends.
I’m Sorry. I Love You.
So, the photographer I once was, I want to tell you I long to reconnect with you. I need you to know I’m eternally grateful for you, and I’m no longer ashamed of you. You are the foundations of the photographer I am today. Without you, this whole building collapses. And as I continue to evolve, I will continue to check in with you and ensure elements of who you are is present in the photographer I become.
It’s been a great ride, and we’ve still got a long way to go. To the photographer I once was, I love you, and I’m truly sorry that I’ve been fighting so long to erase you.
With love and gratitude,
The photographer who I am today.