Posted by: David Vernon | June 15, 2009

I’m not an intellectual, I just take pictures

July 4th in Peoria, Illinois(Note: Today’s guest blogger is Lily Dale aka LolaTakesPictures. She is a photographer and blogger who lives in Central Illinois and recently transplanted here from Las Cruces, NM. She chronicles her experience on the blog Peoria in Pictures, where she has been known to occassionally insult me. I’m sure I deserved it.)

So I had a conversation with Dave one day when he asked if I’d contribute a post to this blog. I asked him what he wanted me to write about and he said, “Something you’re passionate about.”

My mind has been spinning since that day. What the heck am I passionate about? I’m passionate about flip flops in the summer time and the taste of sweet watermelon. I’m passionate about not missing noontime naps and about every song I’ve collected on my Ipod. I’m passionate about my kids and about chocolate, of course. But what about photography am I passionate about?

I started taking pictures badly when I was 16. I had signed up for the photography course at my high school, taught, badly, by a teacher who played favorites with her students. I wasn’t one. Consequently, I learned nothing, not even how to read the meter in my borrowed Pentax K1000, but I loved taking pictures and I cherished the ones that, by some miracle, turned out okay. If film was more affordable and if I had had my own camera I would have breathed photography and lived on developer. In the end, I had to admit to myself that I just wasn’t going to be National Geographic photographer material so I let go of the hobby. I figured I could concentrate on writing for them instead.

Getting my Bachelor’s degree was accomplished in fits and starts. I had kids and a husband, all of which are not conducive to pursuing those old hobbies or goals. They tend to complain when you’re not around to feed them, you know. I went back to college for good in 2005 and, once again, jumped into the photography courses. Although I’d given up on that NG dream, I still had a love for the feel of a camera in my hands. This time around, too, I was older and more patient (and wiser) and had a good teacher who broke things down for me and let my swiss cheese brain process it slowly. I finally understood what the picket fence in my viewfinder was all about and how to use it successfully. It was as if someone threw open the dusty drawers in the cabinet of my accumulated photographic knowledge and gave me the last pieces of this puzzle. I was finally able to make a decent picture–on purpose!

I guess what I’m trying to say is just because you don’t accomplish your greatest dreams or manage to turn your hobby into a lucrative career doesn’t mean you have to give them up. I know I will never be a glossy magazine photographer like I imagined myself to be all those years ago but I’m okay with that now. My goal is to continue to challenge myself to be the best photographer I can be and I challenge you to do the same!

“Look, I’m not an intellectual. I just take pictures.” Helmut Newton (German Photographer, 1920-2004)



  1. Nice post! Very deep!! Though my history with photography isn’t as extensive as yours, I can relate! 🙂 Nothing wrong with remaining a hobbyist!

  2. Very well put all around, Lola!

  3. Aww thanks guys!

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