Photography, dyslexia and me... / by andrew hyde

...it's a visual world.

Firstly, thank you for dropping by...and finding my very first post here.

As a first post, I think it's best that I introduce myself. My name's Andrew Hyde. But, I think you may have guessed that. You most probably know I love photography. But, you may not know I'm dyslexic.

Like a lot of dyslexics, I'm a visual thinker. Or, more precisely, an uber visual thinker. I haven't always known that. You pretty much take yourself as is. It's only when talking to others that you find the fantastic scope of 'normal'. When I talk to kids with dyslexia I always say, find your super power and learn to use it to its fullest potential. Wanting to live by my own advice, that's exactly what I've tried to do with my long-standing relationship with photography.

I fell in love with photography in school when, at around the age of eight or nine, we made our own, small pin hole cameras out of cardboard boxes. I absolutely fell in love with photography when I walked into the dark room and developed my first piece of photographic paper. The smell of the chemical developer, and the way the image grew out of nothing. When the teacher, a photo buff himself, held my picture up for the class as the best of the day I was pretty much hooked. That picture remained stuck to the wall of his office when I left for secondary school. Realising my interest, my parents bought me a little camera. They bought me black and white film to go in it. They drove me around castles and historic homes for a photography project.

Looking back, I think photography gave me a love of the arts because, all my creative interests seem to stem from that one memory of school. I love drawing. I love painting. I even grew to love writing short stories and novels. The love of creating led me to computer programming - way back when the home computing craze arrived in the 80's. With so many interests, photography became the occasional hobby while, I've stayed with computing my whole working life.

As I said, as well as photography, I enjoy drawing, painting and writing. Getting lost in a world of my own imagination. None of those are separate from one another. When I'm out and about I've always looked at a scene and taken a mental snap with my mind...thinking to myself, that would make a good drawing, painting or photograph. With camera in hand I get to actually capture the moment and can show people the world as I see it. That's a very powerful and addictive thing.

Having watched all my creative interests, my lovely (if ever suffering) wife is convinced photography is the art form for those with attention deficit disorder (she'll add hyperactivity in there depending on how much coffee I've consumed at the time). I think she's right. Photography gives me an instant, creative gratification I don't find in other art forms. I think there's a dollop of dopamine added in there somewhere too for extra addictive measure. Enough dopamine reward from capturing a keeper to make me move onwards to the next snap, and the next, and the next.

That's why I love photography.

For too long, my interest in photography remained in the realm of the enthusiastic, casual snapper. I wish now that I had carried a camera more often. But, I've always tried to find that alternative view. Like the picture below taken in 2006 with my very first digital camera - a little Pentax Optio with a whopping 3 megapixel sensor. I took a few tourist shots of the Eiffel Tower but, this was the scene that cried out to be captured. 

Eiffel Tower 2006 Pentax Optio 33LF ISO 100 5.8mm f4.8 1/320sec

Eiffel Tower 2006 Pentax Optio 33LF ISO 100 5.8mm f4.8 1/320sec

It wasn't until about five years ago, when I could actually afford to trade my point-and-shoot for a big bulky Canon DSLR, that the photography bug really bit and my interest has continued to grow. Switching to a DSLR started a journey of discovery (I think I'll leave the details for my next post).

Don't get me wrong. A DSLR has a pretty big learning curve. I wasn't off shooting the pictures I wanted to capture right from the start. It took me a month or two to find RAW. But, it was a happy me that started the journey. I was soon looking for the alternative view and the set of pictures below, taken on a family trip to London in 2014, really sunk the photography hook right in and showed me the potential of the camera beyond the point-and-shoot cameras I'd used for so many years:

Since making the switch, I've found photography keeps my uber visual mind active, primed and ready, stops me going mad, and makes sure I've no money to spend on any other hobbies :) Just holding a camera in my hand seems to switch something on in my head. Even though I'm always noticing interesting scenes, whether that's people going about their daily life, architecture, shadows and light, or the beauty of small details we sometimes miss, with a camera in hand, all this seem to take on a glow and I notice things I wouldn't have noticed before. Is that the definition of Mindfulness? Possibly. Then, there's the instant gratification of capturing a keeper. Dopamine. Ooo, look, another image to capture. Dopamine. Dopamine. Dopamine.

Well, that's photography, dyslexia and me in my first post. If you got this far, thanks for staying and please do call back...or even make contact through social media. It's always nice to find and connect with people having the same interests.

My name's Andrew Hyde. I love photography. I have a dopamine addiction.