A 10 Megapixel Invitation to Life

For my first post on my own photography website, it would make sense to explain why I picked up a camera in the first place. It started, or in a lot of ways simply permeated beneath the surface prior to my trip to Iceland when I graduated from high school. I didn't own a camera and decided to buy a used LUMIX LX-5 point-and-shoot camera.

The minute I first took it out of the box, I was excited. I finally had a tool to humble-brag about my life to my fellow graduating classmates! I was going to start a travel website and prove a million things to an audience that wasn't even watching! I wrote blog posts about Iceland, which are all laughably exaggerated and poorly structured, and continued the trend when I moved to Japan. I moved in on December 1st of 2014, and by February I had pulled the website down. I was doing everything I planned and more. I started climbing mountains every week, visiting stunning places. However, as my own stories grew, I realised I didn't really wan't anyone to hear them.

 A photo during my time in Iceland

A photo during my time in Iceland

I felt out of place telling people about my life, and with that I lost track of where I put my camera between vacations. By December of my first year in Japan, I had been to half of the prefectures, and summited countless peaks. Come October, 2015. I went through a difficult break-up. My concept of self-image diminished in the weeks following. Winter break started and I stayed occupied. I went to Kagawa and Ehime Prefectures, and spend my nights walking around taking (mediocre) photos of the cities at night. That little point-and-shoot camera got me to climb up to Matsuyama Castle at midnight to take photos, to go for morning walks in the shopping streets. That little point-and-shoot camera became my invitation to life. The photos I took in that week were poorly composed, messy, boring... And some of the most important ones I have.

 Matsuyama at Night.

Matsuyama at Night.

Classes started in January and I kept that little camera with me everywhere, but I was slipping back into a funk. I was doing the things I enjoyed, but I felt worse about myself then ever. Until one of the people I respect most took a photo of me. On some makeshift set-up in the corner of a classroom during a school's food festival, the photo that seemingly ended my negative self-image was taken. 

 Taken By Michael Koonce. The photo that, in many ways changed my life.

Taken By Michael Koonce. The photo that, in many ways changed my life.

It was March 16th when he sent me the photo on Facebook, and March 23rd when I snapped and decided to move up with the camera I was using. It was also only 3 weeks away from my trip to Nepal. My life was turned on it's head the day I ordered a Lumix LX-100. I started going to random cities and neighbourhoods to take photos, watching the sunset and a few times a week, the sunrise. I had be oblivious to how beautiful my own neighbourhood was until I decided to try find something worth photographing in it. Then came Nepal. I was taking portraits of the children I was meeting and processing them in a small room without running water and constant electricity, and for the first time in a very long time: Happiness became the norm. 

That was nearly 6 months ago. Everything since then is still only being developed, no pun intended.