My Journey to Becoming a Mindful Photographer

My adventure with photography began in the fifth grade when I bought my first camera. Somehow the world looked more enchanting through the viewfinder of my Kodak Brownie.

After shooting a roll of film, I’d take it to the corner drugstore to be sent off for developing and printing. Then, I’d have to wait several days for the black-and-white prints to be delivered so I could actually see what I’d shot.

In college, I took photography classes where I learned about f-stops, film speeds, and apertures. We developed our film in dark rooms that reeked of horrible-smelling chemicals. Then, under the red safelights, we would make prints, achieving various effects by manually dodging and burning the light as it shone through the negatives onto the photographic paper.

I learned the mechanics of taking pictures, but I wanted more. I wanted to understand lighting, composition, and perspective. I yearned to experience photography as a creative form of artistic expression.

After college, I sporadically shot photos to document events such as a volcano erupting, U.S. presidents campaigning, and babies being born. But somewhere along the way, I lost my focus and I only took pictures on obligatory occasions such as birthdays, graduations, and family reunions.

Everything changed, though, when a doctor informed me that I had melanoma. He showed me pictures of a large, well-developed tumor growing on the retina inside my eye. Within days, I was in Boston receiving treatment from a team of highly-specialized doctors, led by a world-renowned ophthalmologist from the Harvard Medical School. Over time, my treatments were successful and today I am cancer-free. But the disease took its toll. I lost sight in my left eye.

As I adjusted to my new reality, I made an important discovery. As my eyesight gradually faded, my vision actually increased.

With the vision that remained in my one good eye, I began seeing things I’d previously taken for granted. I discovered incredible beauty that had always surrounded me, though “hidden” in plain sight.

My passion for photography was rekindled as I discovered extraordinary beauty in seemingly ordinary places. My photography hobby helped me to become more aware, more mindful, and more grateful of the wonderful world in which we live.

Today, I enjoy sharing my photos with others – not to impress anyone with my creative abilities – but rather to spark the creative spirit deep within each of us. I hope to inspire others to discover and appreciate the beauty that abundantly surrounds us.