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Why My Camera Is My Best Friend

angelica-2-2.jpgA Guest Post by Elizabeth Tsung

I’m not a professional photographer by any means. I haven’t been studying this art for very long, nor do I know a camera down to its core, in its most stripped and anatomical form. I’m actually another type of artist- a musician. I currently have one more year of undergrad for violin performance, and have recently tackled on a new hobby-slash-skill, if I may, of my own.

A year ago, I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. For a musician, that’s their biggest nightmare. Because unlike other injuries such as tendonitis, which only affects muscle, carpal tunnel syndrome involves damaged nerves. My first thought was I won’t be able to to play my instrument? What on earth will I do with my all free time, then? Musicians spend hours a day honing their craft, delivering their energy to the music until it makes them sick, sometimes even going on for 8-10 hours. I know people like that, I do.

As an early birthday present, my dad bought me my first DSLR. I had been eyeing photography for the last year, after getting into tumblr and being inspired by all the wonderful images by other members. The day I received my new baby, I was so in love. Not because I had a shiny, new thing to play with, but because I knew that the void I felt from not playing my violin anymore would be filled through this life form- my baby Nikon!

I continued my physical therapy, tried to practice whenever I could, and admired other photographers every day, especially during lectures. I would find myself zoning out of what my professor was saying, and being so drawn into a piece of work. It consumed me. I started learning all that I could about my camera, and digital photography school was my biggest source. As for projects and experimental work, I started using myself as a model, taking self-portraits, and also using my friends as models. If I wasn’t particularly cheerful that day, I’d take a picture of me being happy. I created a life that I wanted to be in, one that made me happy. It gave me a sense of purpose, and something to fall in love with- my growth.

Eventually, I found my way again. I wasn’t depressed anymore about the life I had planned in my mind ever since I first touched the violin at the age of 6, knowing it wasn’t going to turn out the way I wanted to. I’m not sure where my life will lead me now, but I definitely want to pursue a career in photography and learn all that I can. These last few months that I’ve held my camera, I realized that music will always be an amazing thing that I’m grateful for, but it’s not music that helped me thrive, it was art.

heat.jpg

For some people, it will be a violin. Another, a paintbrush. Others, maybe a camera or two. But that doesn’t really matter; what does is what sets you off and makes you whole. Because I realized that without art in your life, there will always be an inexplicable part of you that feels missing. Like you’re not seeing enough of this world, or that you could simply just be better at life. Just silly expectations our mind conjures because it hasn’t seen enough beauty in this world. Once that person does find beauty, they will realize those expectations are not worth lamenting over.

Even if you aren’t a professional artist, just being surrounded by beautiful things and admiring every-day aesthetics will bring you an innate sense of inner peace.

I promise you. Find your art. You will never be happier.

Elizabeth Tsung is a 20 year old college student who loves photography. She is the owner of www.whiteowlphotos.com

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  • Michael

    Hi Lizzie,
    Looking at your pictures I think you definitely have found your way again, even so I never heard you playing the violin.
    I can 100% second your statement: “I promise you. Find your art. You will never be happier.”
    You don’t need to make money with it, you can keep your daytime job, but find your real destiny and live it.
    Regards
    Michael

  • http://www.diy-images.com Isac Nilsson

    I also enjoy both photography and music! I find them complementary in some way. There is an aesthetic power in a beautiful visual composition that is exactly the same as in a musical composition. Keep going with your photography!

  • raghavendra

    I just completed my college. I did not possess any camera’s, all i had is my mobile. Take pictures of college, don’t have many friends and most of the time lonely. Now i remember my college days through my photographs. Various moments with me and my mobile!

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2011/08/being-lonely.html

  • http://www.fuzzypig.com Fuzzypiggy

    Very well presented and I couldn’t agree more. I don’t have the patience for music, apart from playing a little bit of bass in some college bands. I’ve never had any artistic talent in my entire life but photography changed all that.

    I took up photography to help me get more active and lose some weight, I dropped from 170 Kg down to 110 Kg and after 5 years I am still slowly losing weight little by little. Prior to taking it up my wife and I would fight like cat and dog, usually because I was so stressed in my city office job.

    Since I took up photography I think we have had two arguments in 4 years, we get along a million times better than we ever have and as she was the first to point out, because I always have my photography to help me through the week and give me something to aim for. When I go out on location to shoot landscapes, that’s all that’s in my mind, nothing else matters for that few hours. My wonderful and understanding wife encourages me to get out and about with the camera, even encourages me to head off into the middle of nowhere with the car for a couple of days, a few times a year, so I can pretend for a few days that I am serious photographer, ha ha!

    Whenever anyone said that art and music really calms the soul I thought it was utter bunkum but I have been lucky to find that it’s true and most likely probably saved my marriage as I really don’t know what state my wife and I would be in if I hadn’t found something to help relieve my stress.

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula
  • http://www.wildlifeencounters.eu steve slater

    I was very active in conservation and a member of a crocodile project. Having been injured when capturing a 4metre one I had to stop that.
    I turned to my other passion photography on the premise if you cannot catch them then photograph them.
    It continued to give me a purpose in life.

    The one that got away:
    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/African-Reptiles-and-Amphibians/G00006yhJJmWxMcQ/I0000O2PN_Qtg9PI

  • http://foodalogue.com Joan Nova

    What a beautiful and inspirational post. I’m sure Elizabeth will go far in not just one chosen career but many!

  • Peter

    As a former violin performance major myself congratulations on your transition! I hope that you continue to love and grow in photography.

  • Michael Minick

    Hi Elizabeth,
    In March of this year, I spent 6 hours shooting an Africa Day event at a local convention site. Purchased some new reflectors which worked extremely well and worked with my new (and heavier) speedlites. I shot 600 photos (mostly red carpet shots) and everyone was happy (& tired)
    My happiness quickly wore off (and hasn’t returned) as it seems that the heavier camera rig and repeated motion has given me a “torn rotator cuff”. This injury is very slow to heal, hurts a lot, and robs me of sleep.
    Since you’ve already got an inlury from an unexpected place (music), I thought I’d warn you the similiar thing can happen in the world of photography.

    Something else that I learned is that I should have stopped when it started to hurt instead of trying to “shoot through the pain”. That was a bonehead move:)

  • Calvin Warren

    I can relate to this. I too am a musician and I love it! After getting into photography I find that it gives me the same satisfaction as writing songs and composing music! Except the difference, I believe, is that a picture can reach a broader audience and still be something YOU done.

  • Regan

    This entry energized my day. My photography passion was ignited by not being able to continue practicing woodworking. Your expression with the violin was no doubt enhanced with mentoring by a master. Find the photography master that will mentor you, then break loose on your own style. Your inherent ability as a musician to sense/adjust instantaneously needs to be adjusted from the ear to the eye. I think the pix you’ve displayed show an emerging talent.

  • http://www.starryskyphotography.com Kim

    I am sending you a virtual standoing ovation for this essay. : ) Greater than any technical skill is the ability to flex and grow and find beauty in different ways, rather than being embittered by circumstances. I love that saying, “Its the picture we have of how it is supposed to be that screws us up.” Congratulations for moving past preconceptions to make art in new ways.

  • http://betterphotography.co Better Photography

    This is a great story. I love the photographs, but also the idea of how photography helped you move beyond a difficult situation. Good luck!

  • http://energizeyourphotography.blogspot.com EnergizedAV

    A heartfelt story indeed! I too was a committed musician (studied jazz, classical, and Hendrix, the three roots of all guitar music). Since an accident damaged a nerve in one of my fingers I can’t play like I used to. Fortunately I am able to play the keys. That being said I can still write, score, arrange and record my own work. When I work on photo projects I can produce them with my own music, which opens a lot of new doors. Also, with my music background and my wife’s background in dance, we have had very good success in the photography and video field serving music and dance. Clients know we know what they are talking about and what they want. If music is in your blood, photograph it don’t abandon it, roll with it!

  • http://replicatethendeviate.blogspot.com/ Emily

    You are awesome! Wishing you all the best in photography!!! :) I have been suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome lately too and it’s so hard to not be able to play the piano like I used to.

Some older comments

  • Emily

    June 23, 2012 03:52 pm

    You are awesome! Wishing you all the best in photography!!! :) I have been suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome lately too and it's so hard to not be able to play the piano like I used to.

  • EnergizedAV

    June 23, 2012 01:03 am

    A heartfelt story indeed! I too was a committed musician (studied jazz, classical, and Hendrix, the three roots of all guitar music). Since an accident damaged a nerve in one of my fingers I can't play like I used to. Fortunately I am able to play the keys. That being said I can still write, score, arrange and record my own work. When I work on photo projects I can produce them with my own music, which opens a lot of new doors. Also, with my music background and my wife's background in dance, we have had very good success in the photography and video field serving music and dance. Clients know we know what they are talking about and what they want. If music is in your blood, photograph it don't abandon it, roll with it!

  • Better Photography

    June 16, 2012 09:34 pm

    This is a great story. I love the photographs, but also the idea of how photography helped you move beyond a difficult situation. Good luck!

  • Kim

    June 16, 2012 07:54 pm

    I am sending you a virtual standoing ovation for this essay. : ) Greater than any technical skill is the ability to flex and grow and find beauty in different ways, rather than being embittered by circumstances. I love that saying, "Its the picture we have of how it is supposed to be that screws us up." Congratulations for moving past preconceptions to make art in new ways.

  • Regan

    June 16, 2012 05:03 am

    This entry energized my day. My photography passion was ignited by not being able to continue practicing woodworking. Your expression with the violin was no doubt enhanced with mentoring by a master. Find the photography master that will mentor you, then break loose on your own style. Your inherent ability as a musician to sense/adjust instantaneously needs to be adjusted from the ear to the eye. I think the pix you've displayed show an emerging talent.

  • Calvin Warren

    June 16, 2012 01:29 am

    I can relate to this. I too am a musician and I love it! After getting into photography I find that it gives me the same satisfaction as writing songs and composing music! Except the difference, I believe, is that a picture can reach a broader audience and still be something YOU done.

  • Michael Minick

    June 16, 2012 12:38 am

    Hi Elizabeth,
    In March of this year, I spent 6 hours shooting an Africa Day event at a local convention site. Purchased some new reflectors which worked extremely well and worked with my new (and heavier) speedlites. I shot 600 photos (mostly red carpet shots) and everyone was happy (& tired)
    My happiness quickly wore off (and hasn't returned) as it seems that the heavier camera rig and repeated motion has given me a "torn rotator cuff". This injury is very slow to heal, hurts a lot, and robs me of sleep.
    Since you've already got an inlury from an unexpected place (music), I thought I'd warn you the similiar thing can happen in the world of photography.

    Something else that I learned is that I should have stopped when it started to hurt instead of trying to "shoot through the pain". That was a bonehead move:)

  • Peter

    June 15, 2012 11:51 pm

    As a former violin performance major myself congratulations on your transition! I hope that you continue to love and grow in photography.

  • Joan Nova

    June 15, 2012 11:08 pm

    What a beautiful and inspirational post. I'm sure Elizabeth will go far in not just one chosen career but many!

  • steve slater

    June 15, 2012 08:28 pm

    I was very active in conservation and a member of a crocodile project. Having been injured when capturing a 4metre one I had to stop that.
    I turned to my other passion photography on the premise if you cannot catch them then photograph them.
    It continued to give me a purpose in life.

    The one that got away:
    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/African-Reptiles-and-Amphibians/G00006yhJJmWxMcQ/I0000O2PN_Qtg9PI

  • Mridula

    June 15, 2012 04:16 pm

    Glad you have the courage to switch your art! Good Luck.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2012/06/skywatch-friday-kala-pathar-magic.html

  • Fuzzypiggy

    June 15, 2012 03:42 pm

    Very well presented and I couldn't agree more. I don't have the patience for music, apart from playing a little bit of bass in some college bands. I've never had any artistic talent in my entire life but photography changed all that.

    I took up photography to help me get more active and lose some weight, I dropped from 170 Kg down to 110 Kg and after 5 years I am still slowly losing weight little by little. Prior to taking it up my wife and I would fight like cat and dog, usually because I was so stressed in my city office job.

    Since I took up photography I think we have had two arguments in 4 years, we get along a million times better than we ever have and as she was the first to point out, because I always have my photography to help me through the week and give me something to aim for. When I go out on location to shoot landscapes, that's all that's in my mind, nothing else matters for that few hours. My wonderful and understanding wife encourages me to get out and about with the camera, even encourages me to head off into the middle of nowhere with the car for a couple of days, a few times a year, so I can pretend for a few days that I am serious photographer, ha ha!

    Whenever anyone said that art and music really calms the soul I thought it was utter bunkum but I have been lucky to find that it's true and most likely probably saved my marriage as I really don't know what state my wife and I would be in if I hadn't found something to help relieve my stress.

  • raghavendra

    June 15, 2012 02:16 pm

    I just completed my college. I did not possess any camera's, all i had is my mobile. Take pictures of college, don't have many friends and most of the time lonely. Now i remember my college days through my photographs. Various moments with me and my mobile!

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2011/08/being-lonely.html

  • Isac Nilsson

    June 15, 2012 07:19 am

    I also enjoy both photography and music! I find them complementary in some way. There is an aesthetic power in a beautiful visual composition that is exactly the same as in a musical composition. Keep going with your photography!

  • Michael

    June 15, 2012 07:13 am

    Hi Lizzie,
    Looking at your pictures I think you definitely have found your way again, even so I never heard you playing the violin.
    I can 100% second your statement: "I promise you. Find your art. You will never be happier."
    You don't need to make money with it, you can keep your daytime job, but find your real destiny and live it.
    Regards
    Michael

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