These days, anyone can get into photography.
Thanks to revolutionary technology, expensive film and processing are no longer required, and a single camera is now all you need to be ready for any situation. It can do all the brain work for you and give you instant feedback.
With some guidance, you could even start selling your photos.
In years past—when journeying for as long as four months on a National Geographic assignment—I never knew how well my photographs turned out until my film returned from a photo lab back home.
Being a professional, I knew that I had done everything right. What I never knew was whether the same could be said about my cameras. Unknown to me, a Sahara sand storm once damaged the shutter mechanism of one of them, leaving half of my pictures lighter. Dust sometimes scratched my film, or the lab did. Heat and humidity were added concerns.
And I had to carry four camera bodies. Before the quality of zoom lenses improved, I had to carry two cameras—each with its own specific lens—ready to catch any fleeting moment. For a number of years I also needed two cameras loaded with black-and-white film.
Now it’s all changed and you can take really good photos with a simple camera.
Photography can do wonders for people’s lives. As a kid, dreaming of becoming an explorer, I lived through disillusion after disillusion, learning bit by bit that I had been born too late for that. But one day in Congo, at age 21, with two free days from a job on a trans-Atlantic ship, I went to photograph the people of a village.
Doing this, I had an epiphany: I would become a travel and documentary photographer specializing in tribal societies. It would not be easy…particularly since circumstances had forced me out of school at 15.
Photography can help anyone overcome the disappointment of failing to enter a desired profession. Whether your interests focus on travel, art, news, medicine, architecture, archaeology, history, interior design, education, archaeology, or whatever…photography has a use for them, a use that can be just as satisfying.
Take my case. How, as an explorer, would I have found the money to fund my expeditions? As a photographer this was never a problem. Thanks to the publications I worked for I was able, over much of my life, to roam the world’s secret corners for as long as eight months a year.
If you enjoy traveling, there is no better companion than a camera. With one in hand you need never lament the absence of human company. A live companion will only distract you and make you miss the things you would be hunting down if alone with a camera. A camera also helps make new friends, as it gives you an opportunity to deal with people.
I speak from experience. When traveling with another person I rarely attract interest. But when alone, shooting pictures, I’m a magnet. “Hey! Gringo,” they call out in Latin America. “Who are you? Where are you going? Come here. Let’s chat. Let’s have a beer.” And before long I meet the whole family.
It’s a great way to travel.
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