Making connections through photography

It’s now late in the spring semester, the temperature is turning up and so is my schoolwork load. Professors are piling on projects and tests more than usual due to the delays from those beloved snow-pocalypse days and I find myself procrastinating as much as ever, but I can justify it this time (at least a little).

In past years I wasted my time by delving into the depths of YouTube or Tumblr, mindlessly scrolling through a social media feed with no purpose other than to kill time. Today, though, I’m cutting down a couple hundred photos from a shoot and editing them for a friend. I picked up this hobby after trying out numerous others (including the big ol’ DJ bandwagon) and it’s become an intense passion. I credit my sport, swimming, for molding me and bringing me to where I am today quite often, but now it’s time to give my art some credit.

I got into it really because I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures my teammates would come back from training trips with. After team trip in Miami I was hooked. Partially because it gave me an identity as somebody who was more than just a swimmer and partially because I enjoyed providing people with a picture they would be proud of. Facebook provided a great platform for sharing and for feedback. Through it, I met other photographers and drew inspiration street photography like like in the Humans of New York project. Going out into Atlanta, talking to strangers, taking pictures and sharing stories introduced me to more than I would’ve imagined; while out on a “menswear”-themed street outing, I met somebody who ended up introducing me to the founders of a new startup and menswear store in town and now I’m working there. My photography has been used to supplement my writing and helped me land a job with a website that I now do press and photography coverage for at EDM festivals. I’m not alone either; all along the way, be it in the streets of ATL or the photo pit at Buku Fest, I’m networking with other photographers, geeking-out over gear, sharing tips and ideas. Now I’ve been given the privilege to shoot at events like the upcoming TEDx talks on campus.

All this because I was bored by the pics my teammates were taking. All this because I started doing something and still do it, simply for the joy of it. Being at Tech, I think it’s easy for me to forget that not everything has to factor into a career plan or life goal. I have no intentions of becoming a professional photographer and making it a business (I didn’t even start charging people until recently) but that hasn’t stopped me from doing something I love and making people happy with it. It gave me an identity among my peers, a means to make the people around me happy and an art form that I can always challenge myself to do better and grow with. Honestly, there’s not much more you can ask for from a hobby.