Emma’s Life in Pixels – how and why…

My interest in photography began as a happy accident. In need of a part-time job during my undergrad studies, I became a weekend assistant on a photo counter in a pharmacy. This was in the mid-00’s, when camera phones had yet to supersede digital point-and-shoots, and disposable cameras were still widely used. Only a decade later, it’s sometimes hard to recall this era, where “selfies” were as yet nameless and phones were still just phones.

During my tenure on the photo counter, I took advantage of the staff discount to print out my photos from Bebo (remember Bebo?), gigs and nights out that I’d taken with my first digital camera, a Konica Minolta tin box with a whopping 500 MB of memory. These early efforts were generally awful – they were out of focus, used inappropriate flash, and were grainy from using digital zoom in dark spaces. Some of the senior employees showed me how to improve these photos and gave me advice on how best to take photos at gigs, and my interest began to develop as I tried to improve the quality of my shots.

I grew used to working with the large and noisy machines – the developer, scanner and printer – and became accustomed to dealing with them when they jammed or broke down. It was harder to adjust to the customer service aspect of the job, particularly on Sunday mornings when my student hangovers were in full force. Despite my piss-poor salesmanship, I earned a modest commission and bought an Olympus μ740 point and shoot, which I used on my first trips abroad with friends from college and is now sadly defunct after being dropped in the mud at a music festival (RIP).

I enjoyed taking photos, but I still felt like I could do more, so when I was in first year of my PhD, I used money saved from my stipend to treat myself to two gifts. The first was my first SLR – a Panasonic Lumix G1, cutting edge at the time – and the second was a night school beginner’s photography course. At night school, I finally learned how to operate a camera properly, how to compose photos and how everything works. I discovered a love of taking photos, of trying not just to catch and emulate a moment, but trying also to improve upon it. I still shoot with my old SLR, which has been my sidekick on many adventures.  Sadly my Lumix is almost dead – it was never the same after being exposed to polar vortex conditions in the Canadian Rockies. I’ve now moved onto an Olympus OM-D E-10 Mark II, which I’m having a lot of fun with.

I’ve now in my thirties, and I’ve spent the past decade whipping out my camera to capture whatever takes my fancy, but I’ve never been organised enough to do anything with my shots. Until now. This blog is a means to chronicle the past, embrace the future and to share these glimpses in the hope that someone else finds them enjoyable and inspiring.