Part 1: The disappointment!
Disappointment can either drive you forward or sometimes cause you to stop. Fortunately in my photography disappointment drove me forwards.
A few years ago, 2009 actually, I had the privilege to go to a very small South Pacific Island called Niue. I had been told of the island by some yachting friends; they knew I had a lifelong dream of swimming with whales. When they sailed their yacht into Niue, they had whales swimming around their boat, and only a very short distance from shore.
Niue is not exactly a renowned tourist hot spot. Flights to and from Niue happen only once a week, so I quickly booked on the next flight, and 3 days later found myself on the small Pacific Island. The next 11 days were an epic experience: A lifelong memory of crystal clear, 40m visibility in the water, and swimming with a humpback mother and her 5-day old calf.
What does this have to do with photography, I hear you ask!
Well, on the trip my partner (Lauren) and I took the latest and greatest “point and shoot” cameras with underwater housings. Although I had a great enjoyment of photography I had only ever taken shots for myself and our own enjoyment. But on this trip, we took some amazing photos and video and were really proud of them.
(c) Andy Edwards 2009, Just so you’re aware that’s me on the left, the whale is on the right!
The experience of being so up close and personal with these magnificent animals had such a profound effect on me that I couldn’t help but think I’d captured the next National Geographic photo of the year! So I sent sample photos to the New Zealand Geographic (Niue is an island under the protection of New Zealand).
(c) Andy Edwards 2009, A gentle giant with her 5 day old
To my amazement, they came back and said they’d like to run a story on the Niue whales with my images and could I please send them the RAW files. After Googling what RAW files were, I had to admit that the photos were taken on a “point and shoot” camera that only did JPEG. That was the end of the dream and the disappointment of not being published in NZ Geographic magazine.
This disappointment ignited a fire in me. I needed to get a “good” camera to take “proper” photos. It also gave me the inspiration to believe that I (yes, even me!) could take photos that professional organisations wanted.
I still kept thinking, “But I’m not a professional photographer,” and “I don’t have the skills for this.” It took a while but the realisation hit me that photos are simply a memory, a fantastic way to capture a moment in life. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, is capable of capturing these moments.