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  • Writer's pictureMatt Smith

A New Beginning...

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

You've heard the saying,...'things are not what they used to be'..., but I've noticed as one ages its not just the body that changes but your view and perception of things too, not that I thought they ever would. Well, they did. Midlife crisis? Whatever that means, many would say yes, but I'd say just a different direction. I'm still the same person, my belief in Christ and my values haven't changed, but my interests and priorities have shifted somewhat.

A good few years ago there were a lot of things going on. My wife had some pretty serious health issues, my normal work dried up, my photography seemed to be going nowhere and I got involved in social media (on the photography side). All this transpired to stifle my photographic interest and I burned out, and became disinterested without seeing what was happening. You see, I'd been doing this photography thing for almost my entire life, but now it just became a burden, not because of photography itself, but a few things coming all at once. The major player in this being, the all consuming social media behemoth I had become a part of. You know, the one that demands that you contribute to the mainstream, and heaven forbid if you're a little out of left field or don't contribute. Towards the end, I worked out I was spending more time on social media feeding the addiction, than being out in the field doing what I enjoy. So, to put priorities into perspective, my wife was (and still is) the all important factor here, photography itself wasn't the issue but, the social media side of it, really became obsessive/addictive, and I believe killed my creativity and more importantly had an effect on our relationship. How? Thats a good question.

You see, I had a website back when, but hits on it began to dry up as social media took off. Bare in mind this is the short version and yes this was some time ago. I've never been one for social media in itself, but thought it might help the sales along, so I joined a few photography sites on Facebook, even found some new 'friends'. But overtime as I submitted some images, there wasn't a lot of response. So I began to submit what everyone else seemed to be submitting and before you know it, I noticed my style adapting to the new found device, and alas only then, started generating some online interest at last; this is good I thought.

Fast Forward a bit, and the decline in image making, or the interest in going out on a shoot began to become a real issue. I wasn't interested in getting up at unsociable hours to shoot like I used to, it just didn't excite me anymore. I spent more time on the 'device' than looking after my gear, or doing the editing work, and any images I did manage to create were rather mediocre from my perspective, although they seemed to go down well on the 'device'. I'm not blaming social media per se, or anyone involved, it's just I seemed to get a little, ok a lot, caught up in the hype of the 'device' and pushed the creativity into a meaningless space. Instead of it being just another tool, it became an obsession where the enticement of being 'liked' became all emcompassing; and I guess thats the real issue. It was a bit all about me. Even my wife noticed.

All this came to a head about a year after I'd started that FB account, when I awoke from sleep one day and realised there was something amiss. I was developing a Mr Hyde; a side of me that I wasn't aware of but my wife was beginning to notice, giving some hints that I apparently ignored. She mentioned towards the end, and quite rightly, that I spend more time on that computer social media thing, than with her (the severity of that conversational moment doesn't really come across in the text, but I think you understand where she was going with it). Now, once again, while social media can be a great tool, like anything it can become obsessive, and in some cases it can have a changing effect on the person you are, that's how it went with me; it just took a while for me to see it because it creeps in like a dark shadow that progressively takes over.

Well, everyone comes to a point and so it did with me. After being enlightened to my 'illness', and with some due thought, I shut down the website and all things photography, sold all my gear and bought a Corvette. A bit drastic you think? You see the only way for me to turn over a new leaf, grow, reinvigorate, what ever you wish to call it, was for me to call it quits and see what happens after a bit of a break. Well the break went on for some years, and in that time other interests resurfaced from the past. And what does a Corvette have to do with it? Well, that was already decided. Due to Megan's deteriorating health, and what looked to be a long road to recovery if ever, she couldn't travel, so we decided to buy a car, one in which we could work on together, go places together and enjoy it together, without that devious tripod coming out. Why particularly a Corvette? Well that's another story, but it became a bit of a project, more than we thought in the beginning as they apparently always do; and we've been driving and enjoying it now for a few years. So yeah I've been out of the photography scene for some time.

Did I miss photography during those years of photographic absence? That's hard to answer. In hindsight I think I was in a photographic rut and needed a total change, something different to spend my time and energy on. Hence moving to a different set of tools, a passion from my growing days. I didn't miss having to getup at anti-social hours to get another sunrise, or spend hours in front of the computer editing 1000's of images. Somewhere along the way I lost the verve and I don't know how or why. Maybe I was due for a change, to rest and regroup. But, the one thing I really enjoyed when I shelved it, was just coming home from work and talking with my wife, or reading a book, or working on the Corvette. I had so much time and no pressure. But on the flip side, whenever we went to a certain place, usually somewhere wild, I'd be wishing I had a camera (old habits die hard). So I tend to think it wasn't photography per se, or any of my interests, but me that had the issue, brought to a head by a technological virtual reality that was anything but reality.

About a year ago, getting the urge to get up at anti-social hours again, I bought a camera, well two; one for colour and one for infrared. Still the same sorts of cameras as of the past but it's not the camera that makes the image. Am I the same person photographically? Yes and no. I've learnt something about myself and grown out of the experience, The old verve is back, but it's different. My interests have changed, broadened a little, back to how it was at the start in my twenties; so you might say this is a new beginning. I still enjoy going out and being in wild places, but I guess its not all consuming anymore, I don't have to come back with an image, but if I do its a bonus. Its more like how it used to be when I first picked up a camera, kinda fun and I'm hoping to keep it that way.

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