“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” — Dorothea Lange
I had always thought of myself as a creative person. For instance, I love to draw and write, but adult life and responsibilities pushed those thoughts away and I ended up studying in a field I wasn’t passionate about (law) and found a corporate job I was unhappy with.
I began to dislike the person I had become in those years. I was bitter, angry, and impatient. I had no interest in the outside world and focused instead on my personal bubble.
In 2008, an impulsive and random purchase laid down the first brick of a beautiful path I still walk on today: I simply bought my first DSLR camera. It was just a small budget camera, but it awakened the creative child in me, and guided me toward a path of self-discovery and change.
Starting photography slowed me down—from the impatient person who wanted to do things fast and move on, I became more aware of how the world was changing around me. I took my time to stay in the same spot to experience life slowly unfolding before my eyes. It made me realize that nothing in this world is rushed and everything takes time to nurture and flourish.
Photography made me curious. As I slowed down, I started to notice life’s little moments. I paid attention to the way the light changed throughout the day. I looked up and down, left and right, instead of having my nose buried in a smartphone. I became more aware of the moments we miss, the stories we tell, the emotions and faces of strangers, and the beauty of what’s around us when we allow ourselves to slow down and observe.
Photography expanded my horizon. From the simple tourist, happy to stick to the known path and follow a guide, I became an explorer. I pushed aside guidebooks and recommended places and allowed myself to get lost. I traveled to countries that the media warns against; I backpacked slowly through green landscapes and harsh deserts; I crossed an entire country on foot. I plunged into foreign and exotic cultures seen only in books and magazines and learned to peel the layers deeper to understand more about what makes us human.
Photography made me love people. Wherever I went—and no matter the color, gender or faith—people opened up and showed kindness without asking anything in return. They shared stories; they cried and laughed with me; they danced and shared meals; and they taught me that we are all craving the same things as human beings: connection, love, understanding, and peace.
Photography simply changed me. It made me become a better, curious, understanding, and kind person.
Ralph Hattersley said: “We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”
And that is what I am most thankful for.
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