Some of the best things that happen come unexpected.
This event happened nine years ago during my university studies to become a photo journalist. At least this is how I looked upon those. And I had the chance to practice. Never mind that the professor wouldn’t later appreciate it. Others, who mattered, would. I admit I was pretty inexperienced back then and I certainly made mistakes. But I also made some of the right choices and a lot of experience would come from that. One or two years after. Who would think?
My first mistake was hesitating. I wondered if I should go and dedicate time to it although I was invited and I had ties in those circles and I was supporting the same cause. But taking action? I was so shy that I almost avoided it. And that while training for a journalist. Well it was a job I was not naturally suitable for. I had to learn not to be shy. I did need time. More than you would guess.
The event – the Velo March (in Bulgarian we still use the word velocipede for bicycles in general) – was organized by an organization called Veloevolution and they work on improving the conditions for bicycle riding in Sofia to this day. The one march I am writing about was their grand entering. It had to be massive to attract attention and it was actually the most successful one – the first yet the best attended as time would show. It gathered a few thousand people in a city of a couple of millions. We were actually less than 0.2% of the total population. Well, this is still a lot of people when in one place.
I was on a bike. The first one of mine to be stolen later in Sofia. Anyway. I had a problem of riding it freely with my first DSLR camera hanging on my neck with a zoom lens attached to it. A cheap one to be sure, the cheapest Canon EF 75-300 you can think of. Mounted on Canon EOS 350D. Still working to this day, used by a friend of mine. Well, I am telling you about this for two reasons. To make a point that it was an awkward ride and that image quality was relatively poor. But did that matter? Not at all.
I was in the crowd, eventually, and snapping shots left and right.
And then, at one point, I saw a pattern. An idea of an image that would tell a story better than all the rest of them together. I saw the way the railing split the frame in two – the cyclists on my side and the oncoming auto vehicles in the other lane. It would make a nice, artsy shot, right?
I have told that story in various places. As a standalone. But I will repeat it in short.
I hesitated again, thinking that there was no point doing this because it was full of photographers around me and everybody else would be seeing it and doing the same. Then I thought I was only responsible for my own actions and I have to take the shot as I saw it. And I took it.
And it won a competition next year. And another one the year after that. Bringing me a total of a couple thousand euro in prizes, including a new camera body – a Canon EOS 60D. And a trip to Prague.
Where I was invited to the OSCE forum on sustainability and where I again got shy and I could not find the words to tell the moral of that unexpected story to important people. Comforting myself that I was at least the silent ambassador of the Veloevolution movement, talking through my photograph.
Will I do better next time something unexpected happens? That remains to be seen.
Take care, but also try not to miss opportunities!