It's been ten years since I first used a digital camera, a Casio QV-3000EX. 3.3 megapixels and an average lens, giving me images like this shot of the back garden of the house I grew up in.It's pretty typical of my photography at the time, which was short on confidence or technique. I took snaps, not photographs. And not that many either – looking back at the digital record of the vacation to England in 2001 that spawned this photograph, I am struck at how little I used my camera. It took a while to shake the habit of a film photographer, husbanding my images to fit a 24 or 36 frame roll.
Back to this shot, which I have modified by adjusting the levels and applying blur using Gimp to smooth out the default over-sharpening applied by this early digital point and shoot camera. The composition is weak; if I had dropped to knees or even on the ground, I could have made that little cluster of flowers much interesting and got rid of the dull grass foreground. I would have avoided shooting in the middle of day and taken the picture in the much more congenial light of early morning or evening.
I didn't think that way back then. It's taken a long time to get where I am today, but this is where the digital photography adventure began. One thing that is remarkable is how easy it is for me to retrieve these old images, stored as they are on multiple redundant hard drives. From thinking about this shot to finding it took five minutes. My print collection, on the other hand, is uncatalogued and scattered. I have scanned many of most important prints – these days, it's the scans I look at.
The garden? That's long gone. The house was sold to a family with little horticultural interest and all those carefully chosen and cultivated plants are probably either overgrown or gone. It was pretty in its time, but I don't miss it or the house itself. I've come such a long way since the days I lived there, in every sense.
Sometimes I wish I could revisit places and times that I feel I photographed poorly. Obviously, that can never be. I'm fortunate if there's any record at all. Here's part of that record, established on a medium that can accessed by the world. What would have been confined to a shoe box in a cupboard, hidden, unseen except on rare occasions by only a few eyes, is now open to anyone who can access this web page.
I like this accessibility. Not so much because anyone actually looks (although I appreciate that a lot), but more because there is the potential for anyone to look. The shoe box is uncovered, the cupboard opened and the door of the house flung wide for any stranger to come in. In the physical reality that might be rather scary – here, it seems much more like sharing for sharing's sake. A sense of community with no expectations built in. Much like the way I choose to live my life.