You’ve found yourself here probably because you’re interested in knowing what it took for me to becoming professional photographer. It’s been some years when I last wrote anything that wasn’t related to school assignments. I did have a blog way back, you can probably even find it and scroll through the image-filled posts, which from my perspective then – didn’t need any text. This was of course an excuse for not writing or even learning to do so properly.
How I started my photography journey
At around 2006 I was blessed with an old Zenit camera, which made me want to learn more about the process of photographing. Analogue is painful, but helps you learn more about the technical side of it much quicker. For years I would photograph, but didn’t really look which skills to practice. This was more because I wasn’t really interested in anything back then. Everything I started, I’d quit within couple of years. This turned out to be different.
Back then there weren’t many photographers blogs, so I felt disconnected with my dreams for some time. One photographer who actually inspired me to discover film and was my idol for some while was Saga Sigurdardottir. Her way of using light and colors was amazing, and it felt like she had a totally different approach to photography – more playful than what I had seen.
I then gathered my courage and applied to study in Kingston University near London, but that lasted only 3 months. I found I wasn’t ready to move abroad and start my new life just yet.
That did give me the initial spark to study more vigorously and to inspect where I was going and if photography was even related to it. So I took a break of some years.
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If you quit however, you’ll never succeed
After trying about four times to get into Lahti Applied Sciences – which is one of the leading creative schools for photography in Finland – I was finally able to start my bachelor studies in 2014 majoring in photography. Surely I was excited, but I’m still not sure I was open to change and to fully commit to what I was doing. I would also say that most of the studying was easy with no real deadlines or pressure to succeed. Or at least that’s was how I felt about it. Little did I know that was about to change.
Spring 2017 was to be my exchange semester and after seeing a vivid dream of studying abroad, I knew that wherever I would apply, I would go to. This turned out to be the Royal Academy of the Art in the Hague, where I was the only one accepted for the exchange. I knew I had to live up to that exception based on the academy’s reputation. Until that it was mostly no progression nor self-reflection for me, just drifting through all them courses with little to no effort – and surprisingly – no development either.
So there I was, about to face the next four months utterly isolated from my life I had known and thrown into the excitement of learning and growing. The studies were the best I’ve had so far. Not only the experience of living abroad, but realizing my value as a photographer and a member of that community. It truly reshaped me as an artist and let me view my works with a critical eye. I graduated in 2019 with the start of my project She wanted to be named Rebecca,which has evolved into something much larger ever since.
After the KABK experience (Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten) it was clear to me that my studies had just only started. Funnily though, in the beginning I thought 27 was too late to start anything. And thats the misconception many people have – being late from starting or procrastinating about making any changes. My only artistic experiences during my childhood came only from the short art class we had in school, so I was naturally skeptical I even had it in me.
I feel its important to state that there are accidents that push you closer to where you will eventually be drawn to and not paying attention to it will lead you somewhere else. Writing for me is still something to overcome and combining my worker family with my creative life might sometime leave me feeling disconnected. Nevertheless I know now its a journey that has no real ending to it and is fueled by my interest towards my own development.
It’s normal to understand that not every aspect of your life will be perfectly aligned before you can start.
If you’re also starting your journey as a photographer, comment below. I’d like to hear how you started.