Confession: What I wanted to be when I grew up

When I was growing up I wanted to be a famous African explorer, or, more plausible, a photo-journalist for National Geographic.

In my mind, there was no cooler job on the planet. Jane Goodall was one of my heros. I had images of me in cargo shorts and a safari hat romping through the jungle, sneaking up on gorillas, camping out in the Savannah and waking up to discover our camp surrounded by hippos…

As it turns out, I like looking at pictures of gorillas; I don’t know if I’d want to sneak up on one.

Fast forward fourteen years: while I’ve neglected the photography half of my dream in pursuit of the writing half, the photography half still very much lives on. And so, as I mentioned two weeks ago, I’m currently on the lookout for my first DSLR camera. I’ve been snapping photos for For the Love of Bookshops with a point and shoot for almost two years now and it’s time we got serious. As my brother in law said on the phone the other day, “If you’re going to own a DSLR, you’ve got to deserve it.” (He has some strong opinions about people using them in place of point and shoots without really understanding all they’re capable of). I feel a little embarrassed that it’s taken me this long, but, you know, there were always other things contending for that monthly bonus: plane tickets, weddings, new computer…

Taking my bro-in-law’s advice to heart, I really do want to invest the time into learning about photography. I want to do it for myself, but I want to do it for this blog, too.

With that in mind, I’ve so enjoyed the photography advice coming from the new Alt blog. For you pros out there I’m sure it’s pretty basic stuff, but for me it’s refreshingly straight-forward and jargon-free. For example, this one about Avoiding Rookie Mistakes and this one answering the simple question, What to Shoot? confirmed some ideas I’d learned from experience over the years but which I’d never had explained to me.

Writer Justin Hackworth gives us this to think about: “Why is it that people who don’t take pictures on a regular basis always take a camera on vacation? It’s because that’s something they want to remember.”

Hackworth suggests that bloggers remember that when they’re out shooting for their blog: photograph the things you’ll want to remember.

Sounds simple enough, right? So that’s my homework for the next week. Shoot what I want to remember. That and double my search efforts for el camera. Hold me accountable, people.

For more blogging inspiration and business advice check out the new Alt blog.

(Photo is of the famous African explorer Osa Johnson, on her trained zebra, circa 1930. I probably would have wanted to be her if I’d known about her at the time.)


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