Why I take photographs

An art professor once urged me to take a drawing class, not to learn how to draw, but to learn how I draw. In hindsight, I suspect he was just being kind. The way I draw is badly, and I needed as much outside help as possible. I had to be cajoled into accepting it, because I was averse to any task in which I knew I lacked any talent whatsoever. 

For the past couple years, my wife and I have set aside a morning during our summer vacation to do a pastel class with artist Mary Bassell. This was what I made this year: the cottage where we stayed on Ocracoke Island, with the town water tower in the background.


For many years, my dislike of sucking at things kept me from a lot of new experiences, preventing me from learning things that required real struggle and offered minimal rewards. I worked hardest at the tasks for which I possessed natural aptitude, and tended to shirk the rest. Changing that mindset has been one of the wonderful challenges of adulthood. 

I like photography for its finished products, but I had a lot of fun making this. My wife would attest that I didn't look like I was having a good time; I fussed and obsessed over part of this picture that I disliked. But working through the problems, accepting the limitations, enjoying the pleasing accidents, was like doing something I missed out on as a kid, entering a fascinating place I'd passed by all my life but never explored.