Does anyone ever say to themselves, “I want to be a professional Photographer”, instead of something useful like plumber, electrician or a car mechanic? I know I never did and got into the business by accident really. My Dad was interested in photography and had an old Agfa roll film camera with a fold out lens panel. He used black and white film, developed the negs and produced contact prints on printing out paper. I used it a few times but wanted more versatility so he bought me my first camera when our family was stationed in Singapore at RAF Tengah. This was a wonderful Olympus Pen FT which was a half frame SLR which meant that I could get twice as many pix on a roll of 35mm film! Using it taught me a lot about photography, I loved taking photos and showing them off but never thought about it as a career.
Now I must admit that seeing the film “Blow Up” starring David Hemmings in 1969 made me think “Now there’s a good way to make a living”! Especially the scene in his studio where he wrestles with Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills in the middle of rolls of background paper. That might just have had a subliminal effect on my teenage hormones. It is still one of my all-time favourite films and worth seeing if you haven’t seen it. Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka, you can learn more about photography from that film than any college degree…..
I had concentrated on the pure sciences at school and then went on to study Botany at University but my idea of becoming a scientist was rapidly waning and I decided to seek some career help.
The local Career Advice centre had an aptitude test which would identify your basic areas of interest as either Literary, Scientific or Artistic as base lines to refine your career path but unfortunately I scored 33% on each. The career adviser looked my results over and the ensuing conversation went something like this:
“So Peter, you scored evenly on all areas, doesn’t give me much to go on – you could really choose any career path. What do fancy doing?”
“I don’t know, that’s why I came to see you.”
“Okay, what’s your favourite hobby?”
“I don’t have any particular one, I like reading and music and chess….. and beer…… and women…..and….oh yes, I like taking photos too.”
“Ah ha! Well why don’t you become a professional photographer, I can give you the names of some college courses……..”
And so it began and I’ve been lucky enough to have been in the Photography business ever since!