13 September 2011

I Don't Understand

For years -- over a decade actually -- I've wanted to be a dancer.
That has been my main goal in life since I was five.
Then, of course, it was a childish dream completely founded in a princess fairy tale mindset. But I started taking ballet lessons at age six and by age seven I had considered the angles and the work involved more thoroughly and had come to the adult-like decision that yes, I was going to be a dancer. Yes, it would be hard work, and yes, it would be a long time before I could see it come to fruition. But there was no doubt in my mind.

I was going to be a dancer.

And I am still going to be a dancer.

My family, however, thinks otherwise.

You see, I made the mistake of starting to take pictures of things that I wanted to remember. So when I got old and grey I could show my grandkids the places and the people I'm telling them about. So whenever I get lonely and sad I just pull out the pictures and relive the good times.
Naturally, I wanted the pictures to be as clear and well-taken as possible, so I learnt a little about aperture and shutter speed and other tricks of the trade.
I've been taking dance for more than ten years now, but my family took this little bit of photography knowledge and blew it completely out of proportion.
So now I am going to be a professional photographer and I'm going to do studio portraits and I'm going to run my own business and I'm going to do twenty weddings a year and I'm going to win win win win WIN every photo contest they can get their hands on and I will become a household name and other photographers will simply beg to go on photo excursions with me, the great Canadian photographer.

It's like a nightmare.

We've been at a great deal of family/neighbourhood gatherings recently, and many people ask, 'so what are you up to?'
I say, "Dancing mostly -- taking ballet lessons and looking for a tap class somewhere (do you know how freaking hard those are to FIND?) and I'm working on a lot of choreography."
"Oh cool."
Then, just as they may be about to pursue that train of thought, my mother and/or grandmother comes in.
"Yeah, and she also REALLY likes TAKING PICTURES and she's thinking of starting a photography BUSINESS here in the next couple weeks and she's REALLY GOOD and lots of people COMPLIMENT her on her great pictures so she's REALLY SERIOUSLY thinking about DOING THAT." (Insert murderous glare at me here for 'forgetting' to mention this obviously vitally important matter.)
And then, because most people have some idea what goes into photography and haven't the faintest clue what's involved in dance, they naturally seize on the topic they feel a little more knowledgable about -- photography.
It has gotten to the point where my mouth tastes bitter when my relatives start talking about photography.
I don't want to be a photographer. Sure, I mentioned perhaps starting an online shop and selling a few prints to make some money until I could get the choreography/dance thing going, but that was only ever meant to happen 'on the side.' Photography is not my vocation, and it never has been. I may be good and I appreciate that they think so, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life clicking a stupid button.

And their I-know-what-goes-on-in-your-head-better-than-you-do attitude has completely ruined any joy I did get out of taking pictures, capturing memories. Aside from some Northern lights this past week, I haven't touched my camera in several months, because now I know that every single second they see a camera in my hand is only fuel for the fire -- their argument is, "Well, I never see you dancing, and you're always taking pictures, so I thought that's what you wanted to do."

Yeah, well, you try testing out the timing in that one part in Spirit Mover when you're in the middle of the mall. A camera takes up a space the size of your hand. A dance takes up two or three of those little shops, depending how big your movements are.
And these two are completely different things. Sure, they're art, but the fact is, with the camera, I'm only recording memories and things I find either beautiful or interesting. With dance, I want to express emotion and beauty and marry it to my love of music and the stage.

I don't understand how they can have misunderstood all this so badly. Ten years of dancing should not trump a couple of library books on photography. It just shouldn't.


Brittney said...

I can totally relate. I've been lucky enough to dodge the "you should go into this as a career" conversation, but only by stressing that photography a HOBBY and that I only have patience for it sometimes before showing anyone my pictures. By the way, this post gave me an idea for one of my own, so thanks! :)

Kate said...

Me too... they pretty much skipped past the 'conversation' part and went straight to advertising.
The problem is that I do have -- as I mentioned in the post -- some intent of selling some of it so I've been told that I'm therefore not allowed to address it as a hobby, it is then a BUSINESS. Even though I haven't officially starting selling anything yet.
Seriously, how many millions do they expect me to make on this? I was always under the impression that a business is the job you live off of. Anything less than that is 'on the side' or a hobby.
That was the accepted definition up until they realised I was serious about dancing, anyway.

And no problem. Glad to be of assistance. :-)

Brittney said...

My parents have always told me that I should "find a job to support myself, then do what I love as a hobby", so I think even if I tried to sell my pictures, it would still be a hobby unless I started making enough money to live off...not that I intend to take that advice. The plan is to take something I love and figure out a way to get paid for it. :)

Kate said...

That was always the logic I was living under too, right up until I said I was serious about dance/choreography. Then it became 'you HAVE to be a photographer because you've taken some nice pictures and there is no other option.'

That's my plan too, but so far I haven't got much support for it (obviously). I haven't even mentioned it to my even-more-critical extended family yet...