Becoming a photographer – Part 1 of how I got started

I’ve talked a little bit about this in the past, but I thought I might give a bigger run down on my photography history, I think we can call it that. I am not going to go into it all here, but maybe this can be part 1.

Growing up in the 70s

Yes, I am that old. I was most definitely a child of the 70s. I grew up listening to Abba, watching cricket and wearing some pretty strange clothes that were fashionable back then. OMG who remembers dresses made out of terry towelling? I think many of us look back on that time and it seems like colour was a thing, psychedelic colour that is. Lots of oranges and mission brown.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad. It was the start of many things too. One-day cricket or limited overs made watching it a lot more fun. Does anyone else remember the underarm bowl?

In Australia colour tv finally made its way here and we got our first colour tv in 76 or 77, I think it was. Australia always seemed to be behind the times then. Maybe it still is.

The thing that has really allowed us to remember the 70s is through photos. We remember the colours because in the 1970s colour photography became really popular. In some ways, it became a little more affordable and maybe more accessible.

When I was 10 my grandmother gave me a camera. It was basically plastic, but it took real photos. We went away on a holiday and I took a lot of photos. No idea what happened to them.

However, my mother always had a camera and whenever she got the photos back from it she would always complain that there were a lot of crap things on it because my brothers and I would use it. As you can imagine, lots of photos of dogs, horses and other animals we had at the time. It seems I loved taking photos.

I found my album from when I was a kid and have snapped a few photos from it. They aren’t great, but I don’t have a scanner anymore.

Obviously, they weren’t all taken by me and a couple have me in them, but I did take most of them.

The last photo there was taken in high school. I had an opportunity, along with a couple of others, to take some photos and then we got to develop and print them. I’m not sure how it came about and why we were allowed to do it, but I remember doing it. I also don’t know why it wasn’t offered as a class or something. I would have done it for sure. Do you like the school uniform?

Most of this happened right through my teenage years. I snapped when I could.

Getting into the 80s

I have to admit the 80s were very turbulent years for me and I don’t remember a lot about what was happening around the world. For most of it, I was living in my own little world. This was all before the internet and it was easy to live in a country town and just hide.

Around the time I was 21, I had a boyfriend that I was pretty serious about and he had an interest in photography. He showed me how to do a ghostly type of image.

He told me to stand there and count to 15 and then walk away. It is kind of cool.

While we were together we took a trip to the Gold Coast. Us and 5 others. It was one of those trips you do when you are young and don’t have a lot of money. We drove up there, took us 3 days I think. When we got there we spent the first week in a one bedroom flat sort of thing. The second week we were all in a hotel room together. No privacy there.

My boyfriend took his camera with him. I have no idea what sort of camera it was, but it a basic SLR. I’ve often thought it was probably a Pentax, and maybe the K1000. It was all manual, but it was the first time I ever used a camera like it, that I can remember. It wasn’t easy, but I had fun using it.

Actually, I had my 21st birthday there. My boyfriend gave me an Instamatic camera for my birthday. It was one of those ones that were thin, wide and a rectangle. I think it took 110mm film.

I used it a lot, along with his camera.Β  Here is a short selection of some of those photos.

I took all of these. My boyfriend is there too.

When we got back I had a party for my 21st and here is a photo of my cake.

The cake was made and decorated by my boyfriend’s sister.

He was a special guy but unfortunately was killed in a road accident a few months after these were taken. It was a heartbreaking time for me. Everything in my life changed and so did taking photos.

Taking photos was no longer affordable and not really on my radar anymore. I moved to Melbourne and just tried to survive.

That was until I meant my husband.

I think this is a good place to stop and we can continue next week if you are interested in my photography journey. Hopefully, the photos will get better.


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  1. Thank you for sharing Leanne. Very interesting to read what sparked your interest in photography and that it started at an early age. Looking forward to the next parts!

  2. Oh my, did this take me back to my own childhood πŸ˜€.

    I can relate to almost everything; however, my dad was the one always interested in photography, he always brought a camera, then later a video camera…Unfortunately I didn’t become interested in photography until 2010, so I couldn’t learn from him or make use of his cameras…

    Looking forward to the next part of your photography story.

    1. I hope it took you back to a good time Kiki. πŸ˜€
      It is funny how for many of us it was a parent, me was my mum. That is sad that you couldn’t learn from him, but I bet you learned a lot without realising that you have.
      Thank you Kiki, next part is this Friday.

  3. thank you for sharing your pathway to photography here – full of nostalgia and those first steps with camera – penultimately a shocking life story losing your boyfriend so tragically and then an uptick at the very end

    1. You’re welcome Laura. It was tragic, but it did happen a very long time ago. It did end well for me and I was very fortunate. Thank you.

  4. This was a lovely read, Leanne. Really enjoyed getting to know how you got into photography and your experiences that shaped your work. It sounds like quite a journey along the way with ups and downs. Sorry to hear about your boyfriend and it sounded like a very sad time. It is great to see you have carried on with photography throughout your life, and you have come such a long way.

    I remember my first camera was a free one I got at school, one where you had to manually load film and I always struggled with that part. I also remember buying my first point and shoot. It was a Canon for about $300 and at the time, I felt it was very pricey and so valuable. Hope you are doing well πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Mabel. It is quite a long story. That time was sad, but you do get through it and move on.
      Lucky to get a free camera. I think I was lucky with the manual loading of film until much later. Point and shoot cameras seem to be a thing of the past now. Especially with our phones these days. I am well, and I hope you are too. Thank you so much Mabel, lovely to hear from you.

  5. Clothes made of terry towels. I’d forgotten them, but I had some πŸ™‚
    One of the things I loved about b&w photography was that it was so hands on. You could develop and print your photos in a space under the stairs. But at my age it was terribly expensive.

    1. Haha, glad I am not the only one that remembers those clothes.
      So true about black and white, I did a lot of that too and I seem to remember it wasn’t really expensive to set up the darkroom. Oh yes very expensive now. It is a dying art I fear. Thank you.

  6. When the mind finds time to wander into the past! So interesting to read about the way experiences have shape the journey of your life and I look forward to reading more. I have just finished writing something similar, but based on my own passion for travelling (wandering and wondering). Photography is also a close second, and both involve looking at people and places with eyes wide open. I know just how you must have felt, finding and viewing long-time hidden images which are indeed clues to who we are now. I like the idea of having more episodes and unwrapping the story bit by bit. So ……… when is the next one coming??????

    1. Thank you bronlima. I am not sure the rest of the story will be quite so exciting. I don’t really like travelling, but I like to travel to take photos, if that makes sense. I know there are places I want to photograph and I will have to travel there to get them. YOu are right about the past. Haha, I was thinking next week, part 2. Maybe 3 parts all up. I hope that is okay.

  7. What a wonderful story. I was laughing about the colorful clothes. Maybe one day, I will have to share some of my high school photos. Seeing the old photos is cool. My folks got me a Kodak Instamatic camera when I was around 10. Fun times.

    Very, very sorry to learn about your boyfriend. That must have been a horrible shock. I definitely want to read more, Leanne. Thanks!!

    1. Maybe you will have to share Tim. The 70s were a strange decade. Those and the 60s, not that I remember those. Something about colours, free love and war. Strange times.
      I love seeing the old ones too. That is great that they got you a camera, same age as me and look at us now.
      It was a horrible shock, but it didn’t have a long time ago and I have to think that it helped shaped me. There will be more, I’m thinking another two parts.
      Thank you Tim.

    1. OMG Nora, I clicked on that link and went my mother had that camera. She had one when I was very young. I don’t know what happened to it. I never experienced the flash bulbs, but I’ve them in movies. Funny to think we had to buy flashes for our cameras. Thank you for sharing Nora. πŸ˜€

  8. A nostalgic and fascinating recounting of your photography journey. I felt energy, fondness, poignancy (esp. when you wrote about boyfriend), and an overall story telling vibe that kept the lines flowing along with the pictures. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    1. Thank you so much, good to hear that people enjoyed my photography journey. I hope the rest of the story will also be interesting.

  9. I am sorry about the tragic loss of your boyfriend. Such sudden losses are a real shock to the system. It’s great that he gifted you a camera for your birthday and, therefore, had a long lasting impact on your life. My first camera was also an Instamatic and I still remember clicking those cartridges into place and sticking those cube flashes on the top. I was not allowed to use my Dad’s SLR until I was in my teens.

    1. They are, and my whole changed after his death. The camera was a lovely gift and I had a lot of fun with it. Those cartridges, made loading the camera easier that’s for sure. I really had to laugh when I ready about the cube flashes, I do remember those, so funny. I never had access to a SLR until the boyfriend. Thank you for sharing your journey too Laura.

    2. Well I am only a very amateur photographer so my journey only got as far as having my own SLR and DSLR cameras but it is interesting that we both started out with much the same equipment and access.

    3. I probably got a lot more obsessed with it all Laura. lol It is interesting and there have been some others that had similar stories too.

  10. I was born in 1947, so by the 1970s, there was a lot of “new” technology — and ideas — and I always seemed to be working somewhere that was in the front lines of changes.

    There were ALWAYS cameras and pictures around the house. They weren’t good cameras. Nothing with interchangeable lenses. No Leicas. We had Brownie box cameras, but we carried them everywhere. My mother had thousands of pictures she and others had taken starting in the late 1920s. I am pretty sure my brother had those pictures, but when he died, his kids tossed all those pictures. I always hoped I’d get them, but I think my brother had them but never did anything with them. For all I know, he may have tossed them himself.

    My first boyfriend was a professional photographer and gave me my first “real” camera. It was a Praktica (East German) with a fast Zeiss 50mm lens.

    Photography was never a realistic professional choice for me. Earning a living as a photographer isn’t about creativity at ALL. It’s about weddings, babies, and occasionally portraits. All the fun parts of photography are for hobbyists. I could earn a living as a writer, but not as a photographer. I did (briefly) try, but I didn’t have the “common touch.” People don’t want you to take creative wedding pictures. They want their pictures to look like everyone else’s pictures. I gave up and went back to doing what I did best — landscapes, flowers, birds (especially water fowl) and casual portraits. Otherwise, I worked as an editor and writer, though occasionally I got to take pictures too.

    One day, DIGITAL arrived. No one was happier than me. I could finally stop ransoming photographs!

    It’s great having you writing about this. Keep writing!!

    1. That is so sad to hear that you don’t know where all the photos are. I really hope they have been stored somewhere and someone will let you know.
      Well your boyfriend gave you a great present, wow.
      I can’t agree more with your take on professional photography, it isn’t about creativity. I tried photographing those, but I hated them. So true about what people want for their weddings. I think some of them are too scared.
      My daughters are both heading into the writing and editing sphere, and they both love it.
      You will have to wait to hear what I thought of digital. I think that might be part 3.
      Thank you so much Marilyn, I do enjoy writing. Thank you also for sharing your journey with us.

  11. Thanks for sharing your personal history and photographic journey Leanne. I do look forward to more. Sending hugs πŸ€—πŸ’•βœ¨

  12. I think we all have our own special reason why we are into photography. Mine was seeing my dad taking photographs all the time. Digital photography made it easier.

    1. It was sad at the time, and devastating, but you get past it. It did happen a long time ago. The cake was beautiful. She was just starting out, so it was a good one for her to experiment with. Thank you RJ

  13. I so appreciate your writing and your photography and the way you engage with your life and your work. Thank you for persisting.

    1. Thank you Tom, I haven’t had it described like that before. It is one of the few things in my life I have persisted with.

  14. So many wonderful photo and memories, Leanne! The cake is beautiful. Thank you for sharing these memories, and I’m sorry about your boyfriend, Leanne. Hugs from the desert. β€οΈπŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί

    1. I must admit John, I did go right down memory lane yesterday. Thank you so much and you’re welcome, I just hope you enjoyed hearing about them. He died a long time ago now. It seems like a lifetime ago.

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