I’ve just watched a short documentary on Douglas Miller, a street photographer (musician and painter) from California. It’s a great little movie and describes how Douglas has shot a roll of film along the same stretch of beach for 44 years.
He’s been shooting for longer than I’ve been living.
One of my biggest regrets, right now, is that I only discovered my love of photography a relatively short time ago, 2006 to be precise. And to be honest for a number of years since then I’ve not taken my art seriously. In fact even today there are wasted moments. Wasted opportunities.
In a few weeks time I’ll be taking a step back from sports photography, at least the top level stuff in England, with other more important things on the agenda. I shot my first (amateur) football match back in 2007, moved on to be the Cambridge United club photographer in 2008 and finally started working for my current agency in 2009.
In sports photography terms, just under 6 years on the track is a very (very) short period of time. During most games I sit beside, and share a press room with, photographers who have been in this industry for 10, 20 and even over 30 years. Some very (very) talented folks who have produced the iconic images which have graced the pages of the national (and international) press for decades. Folks like Kent Gavin, Mark Leech and Eddie Keogh (to name only a few). There are too many to name, but it has been an absolute privilege to share, even for a short time, the same pitch as some of these folks.
Over these past 6 months, especially as the sports photography industry has changed (sadly for the worse I might add) I curse myself for not discovering both my love of photography and then eventually sports photography much (much) sooner. Of course there are no guarantees in life, but I find myself wishing that I’d have had the chance to sit beside some of the folks mentioned above 20 years ago. To learn from the masters. To observe and run with them in the film days. To have time to craft my art. To have stories to tell. But mostly, to look back on 20 years of my images and perhaps have captured a handful of my own personal iconic moments. And of course it’s not just in the sports arena that I find myself holding regrets over my short love affair with the camera. The likes of Danny Green, David Noton and Paul Nicklen are a constant reminder of what could have been.
I wish I’d have been given a camera by my grandfather at the age of 10. No screw it, 6. Looking through a viewfinder becoming part of my childhood, my teens and twenties. The smell of the darkroom instead the smell of the nightclub. Instead I, like most, was too busy focused on other things. Less important things. Things that today seem beyond irrelevant.
I’m not getting that time back … it’s time to focus on making the next 10 years count
I turned 40 a few months ago and I often say to my wife that (if health and circumstance allow) the next 10 years will be what shapes what will then remain of my life. Of course the past 20 years have shaped the person who I have become today and sadly there are a number of aspects of that person which I don’t particularly like.
I guess what I’m trying to say, albeit in a long winded manner, is that despite my fears that it may already be too late in some aspects of life (a full time career in sports photography for example) I don’t believe it’s too late to change other aspects. It will, at times, feel like I’m swimming against the tide, after-all habits of a lifetime can be the most difficult to change. I believe however I’m up for the challenge. It will take time, so there is no time to waste.
The regret for not discovering photography at a younger age is something which I can’t do much about. Trust me, I’ve tried hitting 88 mph in my clapped out old nova and all I got was a near death experience. This regret can be consuming at times. Instead of regretting what could have been I instead now challenge myself with the mantra what still can be !
What, however, will hurt me 100 times worse is if I look back 20 years from now and realise that I didn’t make the most of the opportunities that were presented to me since finding my passion for photography. The opportunities in the next 10 years. The challenges to be met head on. The stories yet to be told.
So, going back to the title of this post, is it already too late?
A resounding NO, but there is no time to delay as of course as life goes on aspects and circumstances will dictate that for some things it may just be too late.
Start today. Go chase what has yet to be.