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Was I a Better Photographer When I First Started?

Seoul, South Korea - My first trip with my first camera

Following on from my previous post and recent YouTube video where I've discussed how Instagram has made me a worse photographer over the years, I've began to ponder if I was a better photographer when I first started with photography because of this.

When I started I took so many photos. I noticed this recently when I looked back at my photos from Seoul in South Korea. It was the first time I done any proper kind of travelling and it was only a few months after I bought my very first camera.

Apart from just really enjoying myself and really enjoying exploring the camera, exploring my creativity and exploring the art of photography, I also wanted to capture the essence of this Country and my experience.

It was a completely new world to me, it was the first time I had travelled outside of Europe, the first time I'd travelled somewhere with a totally different culture and where English was rarely used or understood and the first time I'd ever experienced what it was like to be a minority.

One of the reasons I went to visit was because I had a friend who was teaching English over there. During weekdays he was working until 10pm at night so for a lot of time I was left to explore for myself.

When I first arrived I was a little overwhelmed and felt uncomfortable to go out by myself. I was generally the only white person anywhere so felt very self conscious, very few people understood English and I didn't understand any Korean, none of the signs or anything where in English and it wasn't like Europe where you can usually guess or work out a few words - it's a completely different script. What if I got lost? How would I order any food?

Once I did venture out however (I had to force myself eventually otherwise it would have been a very wasted trip!) I quickly became more comfortable and just loved exploring and getting to know this new country, the food, the people, the history - it was so exciting - it opened my eyes to the World and wanting to experience different cultures and lifestyles.

And in my excitement and new found loves of both travel and photography, I wanted to capture everything. I wanted to get across what I was feeling and experiencing. I wanted other people to get a feeling and understanding of Seoul through my photography.

More recently I've lost track of that. In my heart I know I still have the same goal with my photography. I want to tell stories, I want people to look at my photos and feel like they know a place a little better, even if they've never been there before.

But I know recently I haven't really been doing that. I've been focusing too much on getting that 'hero' shot. That one iconic photo that will do well on Instagram.

And in doing so I'm taking similar photos to everyone else on Instagram, I'm not standing out and I'm losing track on what I enjoyed about photography in the first place and what I wanted to achieve with it.

Was I a better photographer when I started? Technically not and with my understanding of composition - no. But in my ability to tell a story, my ability to capture a variety of different photos which all come together to give the viewer a feeling around a particular theme and just in my youthful, fun, enjoyment, experimentation, exploration and playfulness of photography then yes - I was definitely better.

But awareness is good. I'm pleased I've now realised all this as I can now approach photography again as I've always wanted to do.

Having fun and telling stories.


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