It’s my fifth blogaversary. Five years ago, I sat down at my computer and started this blog. A few months prior I had never even heard of a blog, let alone had any idea how to set up one. I was unemployed and doing some freelance food and travel writing as I tried to figure out what to do next with my life. I decided starting a blog would be a good way to have writing samples at the ready for editors who might require them.
From my research of other blogs, I knew I should have some pictures to go along with my posts. Photography was something I’d had next to no experience with. It hadn’t been that long since I’d gotten my first digital camera–a Kodak seven megapixel point-and-shoot, which I had received as a birthday present from my brother. When it comes to technology, I’ve always been late to the party.
I remember that night very clearly, the night I picked up the camera and tried my hand at shooting inanimate objects–some vases and dishes from my cabinets–because it was the night my obsession was born.
There are two types of photographers. Those who stand by waiting for that exact second to press the shutter, capturing what Henri Cartier Bresson called “the decisive moment”; who have the ingrained instinct to see it coming. The other type of photographer is one whose talent lies in realizing their creative vision in the painstaking arrangement of objects. Both are artists, but sit on opposite sides of a spectrum. I am the second type. Even that night I felt it, as I moved the pottery around, repeatedly looking at the camera until my instincts told me my arrangement was following the principles of composition, which I only had a vague notion of from my art classes. There was a familiar excitement bubbling up inside of me then. It was the same feeling I get when I’m writing a piece of fiction, when my story is starting to shape and take life and it’s working.
Ever since I could remember I’ve wanted to be a novelist. I took writing courses through my teens and did undergraduate and graduate degrees in Creative Writing. If you have ever tried your hand at story creation, or even been frustrated in compsoing a cover letter to send to a prospective employer, you know how tough writing can be. It rarely goes well. Kurt Vonnegut expressed it best when he said, “When I write, I feel like and armless, legless man with a crayon in my mouth.”
I don’t feel like that about photography. It’s challenging, and it too can be frustrating, but at the end of a long day of shooting I feel I have achieved something and developed my skills in a tangible way. After a long day of writing, I often feel like I want to stick my head in the oven. This is largely due to the interior monologue of writers, described succinctly by Betsy Lerner in her book, “The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers.” It goes something like this: “I am great. I am shit. I am great. I am shit …”
So even though I started my blog to write more, my love for photography took over. Eventually, I signed up for a photograpahy program at a local college and have been taking classes for going on three years now. Shooting and studying, in addition to a full-time job leaves me a lot less time for this blog than I would like. Several times, I have seriously considered packing it in. But then I think back to the days when I was studying writing at university, pre-Internet, when the idea of publishing what you wanted, whenever you wanted–for free—was unthinkable. I am grateful to live in a time where the democracy and accessibility of the Internet gives writers a voice. I may be writing about recipes and cookbooks and the restaurants where I eat now, but I am writing all the same, and there are people out there who are reading it. This is reason enough to keep me going.
I’ll continue to post recipes–my own and the ones I have enjoyed discovering in my kitchen, but there will a growing emphasis on the places I like to eat and visit, the books I am reading, the shots I am taking. It’s the only way I’ll be able to keep this blog alive. I’m not always around, but when I’m away for long, I truly miss this space.