• Noémie Bourdin-Habert

The thrill of photography (en)


I remember ten, fifteen years ago. I remember in my travels, collecting photo films and wishing hard that I don’t loose them, damage them, sink them… I remember the anxiety of giving 15 films all together to a photographer and hoping he wouldn’t close the shop the day after, praying for the prints to be fair to what I had experienced during my journeys. Sometimes, I'd expect a great picture and only received something mediocre from the print shop. But other times I wouldn't expect anything at all and found out I had shot something great. That was part of the whole process of being a so-called photographer. I was only competing with myself, but each and every time, I was thrilled for a few days, waiting impatiently for the results.

Today I shoot digital. Like most. Because it is so much simpler. No more stress, no more loss, no more wait, no more logistics, no more good or back luck. But also, no more surprise. Good or bad. The last few years, the lack of thrill had me take my distance with photography. It made me feel like shooting wasn’t so much of a challenge anymore. Like everything was too easy.

I still wanted to shoot better, I still wanted to edit better - faster too - and I still had to carry kilos of stuff everywhere… but I knew what I was doing, and if it wasn't not good I would redo it, or better even, I would just pass on, and get to my next location. It was still fun, but it is just wasn't as exciting as it used to be. And I am one who likes excitement, who likes challenge. And who loves surprises. Good, and bad.

Nomad Mongolian Girl

It finally became a little more thrilling when I got my new Nikon D800 and there just was NO auto mode to shoot with. And it became even more fun to try to react fast to any new lighting conditions. But it finally got even more exciting when I started to shoot in places where there is NO second take. Street, transportation, underwater… there’s actually a number of situations that I managed to put myself in, where there is just no second take possible. Obviously, these shots aren’t always good. I often fail, actually. But I learn from each failure, and I improve. Recently though, I felt again felt like it wasn’t enough. So I started to show my works to "the world" and seek for appreciation, after 20 years of shooting-in-secret-for-myself. I started to publish my work online, seek for followers, and try to understand what I do that works, and what I do that does not work. And I have to admit I got myself a little addicted to this. But that still wasn’t thrilling enough. As I looked back at my photography path, I remembered one thing I did in university that was really thrilling. I had entered a photo-contest about China, and I had won. I had won my first digital camera for a shot that I will never forget. An unforgettable shot in an unbelievable situation. At that time I was shooting analog with my Leica, I was on the road with my best friend in China for a number of months and we were somewhere on the grasslands of the west of the country, stuck in a yurt with nomads who had found our travelings quite "original" and invited us for a tea-party.

I was desperately trying to swallow a glass of some sort of fermented horse milk when the girl of the family caught my nauseous look. And she knew. And I knew she knew. So she gave me the "drink-that-milk-or-I-will-tell-my-mummy" look... and I swallowed. Swallowed it all. But only after catching that stunning portrait which won a university contest, back in 2005. And then I almost puked. Anyway, recently, looking at my path and remembering this, I remembered how thrilling it is to enter a contest and wait. Wait for days that seems like decades. And I decided to re-enter contests.

It’s difficult to have time. It’s difficult to MAKE time. But it’s so much worth the time spent. It is so thrilling to wait, and it gets so heady to be awarded, published, or even just mentioned … It’s absolutely addictive. So that's my decision from now on. Shoot more, shoot better, and send out the best shots to the wild. Don’t let them rot here in the apartment anymore. Live my passions passionately. Free myself from the fear of criticism, and accept it, learn from it. Become a contestant.

I've always liked challenge, excitement, learning, and I always loved photography too, but right now, I think I'm finally feeling ready to appreciate some recognition, too.

Full award winning info about - Mongolian Nomad Girl :

https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.107737!/file/December2005.pdf (page 2)

#photography #meaning #contest #competition #award #china #mongolian #nomad #girl #story

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