Why I became a Photographer

I can still remember the day I got my first camera.

It was a very old, second-hand camera. For the life of me I can’t remember what model and make it was or what eventually happened to it but I remember my grandfather’s wife gave it to me (she was DE-cluttering) and I remember it worked with film and all the images were square.
Back then I didn’t know anything about photography. I just knew I loved taking pictures and I took that camera with me EVERYWHERE! I took pictures of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING……trees, people, the dog, the cat. Even our drive-way! A bit weird, I know! And clouds, I have so many pictures of clouds!
Here is a picture of me, taken with my first camera.
Me at 12.  Picture taken with my very first camera.

I’m guessing I was about 12 at the time. We were on holiday at Glentana beach and I obviously still knew nothing about posing (and wardrobe for that matter) and the friend who took the picture knew nothing about photography or composition.

But that is not the point. The point is that it was at this stage in my life where my interest in photography began. I was always the friend asking everyone to “Smile for the camera!” I would spend hours and hours lying on my back on the lawn taking picture after picture of the sky and the clouds. I would raid my father’s photography books and I would read them, not fully understanding what I’m reading, but reading all of them none the less. I was adamant; I am going to become a photographer!

Then on my 15th birthday, my father gave me a small point-and-shoot camera. This was a momentous day. I even remember the strawberry milkshake afterward and the first picture taken with that camera.
On my 15th birthday right after I received my first “proper” camera

I used this camera for years. It took me through high-school, through travelling, through varsity even. I took pictures of friends playing sports, having girl’s nights, getting drunk (later on in life). I took endless pictures of the boyfriend. I took pictures of wildlife and some more of the dog and the cat. I took pictures of my family and I even experimented with the selfie! In this time I took photography courses. I was still adamant I will become a photographer.

I went to varsity studying Tourism, Corporate Communications and eventually Marketing. I felt I needed something substantial behind my name before I can be a photographer. What if it didn’t work out? What if I didn’t ever make any money? So I studied in a different direction and I would focus on the photography later.

And then somehow, life happened.

Before I knew it, I was working in sales, married with two kids. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret any of that. It is who I am and I love my life (well maybe I never loved the sales job that much) but there was always that little something missing.

I believe that if you are a creative at heart, like me, you need to keep that little flame burning otherwise you become just another number. You need to what you love and love what you do.  There I was, sitting in a job I very much disliked, doing the same thing every day from 7am to 5pm. I was fading away in this job and I was becoming very unhappy.

So I decided to do something about it.

And there was only one way to go: My Original Plan.

I was going to become a Photographer! Finally!

It has been probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I mean, here I was in a steady job with a steady salary. I had a company car, a company cell phone, awesome medical aid. I was in a very comfortable position. But I let it all go to follow the dream.

It’s been hard, and it still is sometimes. But I haven’t regretted it once. And I have an odd feeling I will never regret it. There is just something about doing a job you love that is extremely fulfilling. The kid in me says: “This is so much fun!” And the adult in me is thinking: “This is the start of beautiful things to come.”


2 thoughts on “Why I became a Photographer

  1. Wow Cornel, ek dink jy is great!!!! Ek haal my hoed vir jou af (ek sal eers een gaan koop) ek belowe. Mag jou besigheid nog groter groei as jou menswees en karakter en mag jy dit elke oomblik geniet.


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