The Power of Ritual: How I Learned Photography

“Some people smoke, I make pictures”, it was my first tagline. My first sub-title. And first sub-heading. I was a teenager, and this was my truth.

Content warning: general teenage angst.

All around me, the cool-but-messed-up-people were all smoking cigarettes (or worse), but I knew  that wasn’t my thing. My lungs were already too messed up for anyone’s liking. Countless pneumonias do that to you. Really. Out-of-breath was my to-go situation, and it wasn’t all that fun.

So, I never did smoke. It wasn’t my thing.

But I had a camera. And dogs that needed walking.

One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the next. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the next. Spotting a nice subject.

Stopping,

breathing in.

Releasing the camera’s shutter as I was exhaling.

One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the next. One foot in front of the other. One foor in front of the next. Spotting a nice subject.

Stopping, breathing in.

Releasing the shutter

I was exhaling.

Picture found, picture taken and picture made. To me, the images were all treasures. Evidence that I actually existed. I was here, now. Doing this. It really happened.

“Photography was a licence
to go whenever I wanted and
to do what I wanted to do.”
– Diane Arbus

Photography was a licence to leave the house, go outside, stay outside and connect to myself. To nature, to the dogs and whatever. I didn’t have to do homework when I was walking the dogs. I didn’t have to pretening being fine.  And the most important part, I didn’t have to feel guilty over either of those things. It was liberty. It was freedom.

Spotting a nice subject.  Stopping, breathing in. Releasing the shutter as I was exhaling. That was my truth.

It made everything suck a little less. It was important. Not the pictures, not the results, but the ritual of picture making. Clicking. Photographing. Taking pictures. Making photos. Just keep shooting, just keep shooting. Eventually you will become a real kid.

Maybe.

So we kept walking. The dogs got used to me lagging behind. Suddenly standing still in order to capture them, or the sceneary around us. That was just how life was: One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the next. Spotting a nice subject. Rinse, repeat.

Stopping, breathing in.

Releasing the shutter

I was exhaling.

Continue.

Sometimes, I even got some nice photos(!). And I knew, no matter what went wrong or was falling apart. – because everything did. I could always do this. Releasing the shutter and continue.

Even on days that felt like 10 0000 hours of The Dresden Dolls song 672, I could do this little ritual. The dogs could run freely, and I could do this thing. My thing. The only thing I could do when all words failed and…

And…

Inhale
Exhale-click

A flash of smiling lightening up my face. If only for glimmer moment.

Inhale
Exhale-click
Smile

The familiar touch of a camera in my hand. Me noticing how the light was always changing. Like magic. Dogs coming close to resieve a treat. Smile. Inhale. Exhale-click. Smile.

Smile.

Feel.

Take a tree-bath.

Stopping, breathing in.

Releasing the shutter as I was exhaling.

Laughing at the dogs, how they were wondering what I was up to.

Inhale
Exhale-click
Smile

Continue.

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