My Journey To Becoming a Professional Photographer - Part 2 (That's Where It Gets A Bit Weird!)

If you read Part 1 (and why wouldn’t you have?!) you will know that I left the story at the point when I had decided to take a few days off from my desk job to re-evaluate how, and if, I could indeed change the course of my life… Whereas most people I know had decided that the course of their lives was perfectly great, “Thank You Very Much”, I was no longer in that category. In fact, I don’t think I ever was in that category!

I have always been a bit restless and have a stupidly low boredom threshold.

Re-invetion was always my thing - Be it re-arranging furniture around the house, changing the colour of walls, or other similar things, which most people I know never seem to worry about!

However what I had in mind now was something quite different from simply re-arranging furniture - I was determined to change my whole life in order to be able to do something which would be meaningful not just to myself, but to others.

When In Doubt Just Ask Life To Decide!

That evening when I got home from work I sat down in front of the tv and started to consider my options. I had no idea where to start. Imagine someone with no clue and multiply it by a million. That was my state of mind…

I watched various tv programs for some inspiration - I got nothing.

I flicked through some magazines and books - Nothing.

I eventually gave up and went to bed, and as I put my head down I thought “If anyone is listening, a sign or some inspiration would be great!” - Although I am not a religious person I do have faith, and so I decided to leave it at that for the night. I had put my faith in my callout for help and hoped it would be answered!

That Was When It All Got A Bit Strange…

I woke up the next morning, made a coffee, and started to wonder whether I was simply squandering a few days holiday for no good reason - I wondered whether I should simply “actually” go on a holiday to clear my head and forget all this life-changing nonsense, as surely it was just the shock of the news which had made me feel the way I was feeling. That was understandable.

But the nagging feeling that I was meant to do something else with my life had taken on a life of its own and was never far behind all other thoughts.

I sat down to drink my cuppa and put the tv back on, still hoping for inspiration, and then heard the letterbox open and some post be dropped in.

Weird. It was far too early for the postman. I went to my front door and thought “Oh, yeah. Junk mail!”

Nanoseconds before I decided to throw it in the bin I noticed it was the propectus for Tresham College, advertising Adult Education Courses for the next term.

“Hmmmm…” I thought.

Don’t get me wrong: I was, and still am, an education enthusiast. I loved school, college and university, but I thought I was done with education - That thought was in no way related to my age but more to do with my state of mind.

That thought was rather foolish and naive as, in truth, we are never really done with learning!

I sat there for a while with the prospectus in my hands and suddenly I decided to say “Ok. Whatever I put my finger on, wherever I open this booklet, is what I will do!” Just for a laugh.



At that point two things went through my mind:

  1. No way!, and

  2. Hahahahahahaha. NO WAY!

Olympus NewPic XB.JPG

Meet my camera.

Yes. Basic is an understatement!

I was never interested in photography beyond the very occcasional holiday snap and, truth be told, I found it all a bit of a bore.

As you can see from the above image, my camera at the time was very basic and hardly ever came out of its box - I still have it and it is in what could truthfully be called “Mint Condition”!

All things considered I thought that was not “the sign” I had asked for, so I put the prospectus down and thought no more of it - For at least 15 minutes.

I picked the booklet up again and started reading the course information:

It was a City & Guilds qualification on the basics of photography - A technical course which addressed everything I would need to know to take good images. How a camera works, how to understand light, composition, and even how to develop film! Please remember this was 2003 and digital was “just” coming into the market. Film was still a thing!

The course did not require any previous knowledge or experience in photography as it was teaching it all from basics, but it did require me to have something called “An SLR camera”. What on earth is that?, I wondered.

With very little research I quickly discovered that the Olympus NEWPIC was most definitely not “it”!

If I decided to go ahead with enrolling I would have to overcome that hurdle, as it turned out these cameras were relatively pricey compared to what I had in my possession (and to be honest, a sandwich was pricey compared to my camera!).

The Boyfriend Camera Rescue

At that time I had been in a long term relationship with a man who was, would you believe it, a photography enthusiast!

A fact I had completely forgotten about, possibly because I found photography such a bore, until I mentioned the course and my lack of a suitable camera, to him…

“That’s ok” he said “You can borrow my SLR camera”


The Olympus OM2-N

This was my first encounter with an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, and it would become a game-changer.

When I now think of the turning point in my story, and about who and what really changed my life, I come to the conclusion that his very generous gesture was the beginning of it.

If he had not lent me the SLR I would probably have abandoned the idea as I could not have invested in one and was not enthused enough by the idea to even begin considering that investment.

I would have simply not enrolled in that course. It is that simple. That factual.

I Have The Camera - Now What?

Now armed with the borrowed camera + flash + gel filters, I called the college and enrolled on the course.

This was possibly one of the most reluctant and half-heart actions of my life as I was still very dubious regarding whether I wanted to do this or whether I would even enjoy it!

I held my nerve and figured that I could always just drop out and forget about it.

The scene was set for what I was convinced would be a disaster and a waste of time, but I had asked for an answer and was ready to accept that this weird series of coincidences may well be that answer!

Come back for the concluding part, next week!

Andrea de Gabriel