Ty Holland, a photographer and photojournalist, once said, “A photograph is the pause button on life.” I realized a few years ago that I needed a creative outlet that would allow me to rest from the day-to-day pressures of my job as a faculty member in public administration, and, in particular, one that would allow me to get into the flow and forget about life for a minute.
Individuals who want to start an exercise program are often told to take up a sport that they loved as a child. I think it is the same for a hobby. As a child, I served as the family photographer on trips. I remember how fun it was to compose pictures and play with the different camera settings. Time slowed down as we walked around a city and I would wait and look for beautiful landscapes and spontaneous events and moments that could be captured on camera. I remember taking pictures of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, the Manneken Pis in Brussels, and the gardens of Versailles. I remember trying to take some night pictures of the Arc de Triumphe that were complete and utter failures. Still, it was fun.
For a time, school and career demands forced me to put photography on the back burner, but I never forgot how much I loved taking pictures. Photography is a versatile, portable hobby that allows me to combine some of my favorite activities such as travel, food, and walking. The added bonus is that it relaxes and rejuvenates me. Lately I have found that after a day of work, it is relaxing to put on my tennis shoes, grab my camera, and take a long walk around our neighborhood or the lake across the street. Looking with a relatively untrained photographer’s eye, I see things that I don’t normally pay attention to, including dramatic sunsets at our neighborhood lake and the changing colors of the leaves in the fall. I also find, from time to time, little nuggets that make me smile, like a smiley face carved into a sidewalk.
I am slowly, but surely working my way back into photography. Photography has changed so much over the past thirty or so years that I feel like I am entering a new world, but that is part of the fun. I enjoy reading about a subject and then applying what I have learned, so I have been reading photography manuals (our public library has a great selection), and I always have my camera on me so I can take practice shots. I find that a college campus is an excellent place for photo opportunities, and taking pictures can provide me with a quick break during the day.
I have been nervous about signing-up for classes and sharing some of my pictures, however, I have taken a few adult classes informally on vacation, and I recently signed up for a landscape class (my favorite type of photography) in the late spring at our local photography studio. Even though we are all at different levels, I have found others to be supportive and encouraging. Right now, I use either my trusty Canon point-and-shoot camera or my iPhone camera, but I plan to research and invest in more sophisticated equipment as I learn more about this hobby. I have been having fun exploring different filters and software programs, and I am also intrigued by astrophotography and scuba photography.
What I like the most about photography is that it allows me to see things in a different way. I tend to go off the beaten path to find new ways of looking at a moment in time—plants blossoming in the spring, Mammatus Clouds moving over Omaha, a bright blue river of water coming down from a mountain in Canada, or horseback riders riding through Bryce Canyon (see picture). No other hobby has ever captured my imagination quite like this. When I come back from taking pictures on a walk or a trip, I am more relaxed and better able to engage with the world because of it.
Bryce is an associate professor in public administration at a state university in the Midwest where she enjoys researching, writing, and teaching about food systems. In their rare free time, Bryce and her husband love to travel the world, try new recipes and restaurants, and play with their rescue Sheltie, Jasper.