I was thirteen years old and two months into my three-year photography course, I barely knew how to use Photoshop, and had just gotten to grips with the camera that my school provided me. We were on our first trip as a class to a local sculpture garden in which we would first properly test out our photography skills in the field.
Of course, I was nervous.
I was the only kid to bring a tripod, which was embarrassing in itself, and had numerous worries; what if I drop the camera? What if it does not focus properly? What sculptures am I allowed to photograph? There were so many things, minor things really, which could have gone wrong for me.
As we began to walk around, we were like sheep, closely sticking to the path of our teacher, only taking pictures when instructed, all at the same time, all from slightly different positions.
Then something hit me, such a profound feeling of excitement, fear, and adrenaline all at once, that would change how I took photos and edited for the rest of my course. It was how I was going to make myself different to the rest of the class.
I went the opposite direction.
At that moment, I looked around me and saw another culture, one with no one around it, not even acknowledging it. It was an excitingly scary moment, but I had to take it, I stepped away from the group, and took a photo no one else had in my class (it was a tiny stone miniature family). From then on I was determined to go out of my way to look for something unique, one that would interest the examiners, and luckily play to my advantage.
Years later, in my Year 11 photography exam, I noticed everyone seemed to be going small in their final pieces when printing out their photos. The biggest someone would print was A3 (11.69 x 16.53 inch). I saw this as an opportunity and went out and bought an A1 (23.39 x 33.11 inch) piece of card. From here I printed out my images, taken over eight weeks of different landscapes, at about A5 and laid them all out across the page. In the end, I had created a large board game made up of my photos. This was a risk. Maybe I had gone too big? Maybe I was too ambitious? When laid out next to the other final pieces, you could clearly see the difference in size and, when the examiners entered the room, my heart filled with glee. They automatically were taking interest in my work, it caught their eye, and I knew that following that path for the last three years paid off.
Sometimes you are going to be forced to take the same picture, and perhaps even edit the same way, and yes, it can be frustrating. But when you do get the chance to do something different this is where you have to discover your unique style, in both taking photographs, filming, or whatever you do creatively.
Learn to stray off the path a little, lose the fear of taking risks. It may be a scary step, but when you do take that first step, it could change your life.
Currently: I have just finished my GCSEs, a qualification in a specific subject in the UK – these results are used to get into college and apply for jobs – and I’m opening up the next chapter of my life. I hope to carry on moving up in the media industry by taking a course in media production or journalism at college. Given my passion to create original online content I hope to one day run or join a media agency, and I feel as though this article right here is my first step…toward the rest of my life.