Taking A Shot At A New Hobby

A self-portrait of the author with her new camera

I am in love. Obsessed. Definitely in over my head. Yeah, I’ve been bitten, and I’ve got I bad. It’s like a fever I can’t medicate away.

And you know what? I don’t care.

Because I’ve got a hobby. And it took me by surprise, because I’ve never had one before. But now at the ripe old age of (cough), I have discovered photography. I blame my smartphone and the flu.

The phone, because having a camera always available changed the way I viewed photography – that’s photography with a lower-case p. Suddenly, everyone has access to pretty decent cameras that allow them to become shooting fools. Who knew we needed to take pictures of every meal, the traffic, the scenery – I mean, why not? Taking a camera everywhere you went was no longer a problem because, well, it was your phone. So easy just to point and shoot!

So I did. But then like most folks, I shot thousands of pictures that were efficiently and promptly stored in the digital library, only to be ignored and forgotten – sort of a modern-age version of shoeboxes filled with dusty old prints.

Then I got the flu. I was sick for a long time. I got better, had a relapse, got depressed. Casting about for something to do that wouldn’t knock me down again, I rediscovered my digital photo library. I started editing. And editing.

Our family has traveled a fair amount, and I had decent shots from each of those places. These were photos that needed to have eyes on them. Some of the images were pretty good.

Suddenly I had a mission. I used my phone and a point-and-shoot camera to photograph the things around me. I started branching out. I discovered I had a knack.

And, of course, I bought a serious camera. Reality check: Photography is expensive! Why couldn’t I have become interested in knitting?

Also, how strange, I thought, to suddenly develop a passion for something at this stage in my life. Didn’t most people find their hobbies when they were young?

That’s when I came across an excerpt from a book written by Sir Winston Churchill. Yes, that Churchill, who fell in love with painting late in life. And his somewhat gushing prose made me realize I was not alone.

In Painting as a Pastime, he wrote: “To have reached the age of forty without ever handling a brush or fiddling with a pencil, to have regarded with mature eye the painting of pictures of any kind as a mystery, to have stood agape before the chalk of the pavement artist, and then suddenly to find oneself plunged in the middle of a new and intense form of interest and action with paints and palettes and canvases, and not to be discouraged by results, is an astonishing and enriching experience. I hope it may be shared by others.”

He captured what I am feeling perfectly. I, who had always believed I had not an artistic bone in my body, am now absorbed in an artistic pursuit. And it doesn’t matter if I’m any good at it. The important thing is, I love it.

I’ve heard people say having a hobby keeps them sane. I don’t know about that, but it sure keeps me happy. It’s like play – creative play. And since, by definition, a hobbyist is an amateur, I feel no pressure to be great at it, or to make money, or to “do something with it.”

Learning about it, getting better at it, doing it are enough. It’s stretching creative muscles I never knew I had. That joy of discovery is captivating and rejuvenating, and most important of all, it’s fun.

Do you have a hobby? What is it? Why do you love it? When did you discover your passion for it? Let me know. I’ll share.