I would love to say I grew up with photography, but I didn't. In fact my Dad was a keen photographer. He shot with an Olympus SLR camera, and I often remember him buying new lenses for it. My brother and I were both bought disc cameras one year. I don't remember how old I was, I think about 10 or 11. He took some fairly decent photos with his, I seem to remember, but I was useless. I chopped peoples heads off, took what I thought were pretty landscapes, but they were usually just empty fields, and often not straight. Completely hopeless. So bad in fact, I was discouraged from using it because of the cost of buying and processing the films! Years later, I got my first digital compact camera, and that was a lot better, but I still produced at best typical snapshots. That's what it was to me, for taking on holiday, but certainly nothing serious.
I've always been artistic, and shunned academic subjects during my school years. Of course I still had to sit them, but I did the minimum effort possible. My life was centred around music. It still is, music and photography! I studied art at school, but only because I actually had to choose one of the arts subjects. I could draw, but it wasn't a skill that came naturally to me. I had to really work at it. I didn't find it that interesting at the time as we were given mundane things to draw, such as a simple wooden chair placed in the middle of the room. We were expected to show the light and shadows, and of course correct perspective. As we progressed, we could use other mediums. I specialised in pencil sketches, charcoal and watercolours. Nevertheless, I surprised myself and actually ended up with a good grade.
Fast forward a few years - ok, quite a few, and I bought a DSLR camera. My husband and I were going on holiday and wanted a better camera for hopefully some nicer holiday shots than we could currently get on our basic compact camera at the time. So knowing absolutely nothing about it, I chose the one I wanted, telling myself I'd try to learn how to use it, but if all else failed, it would still (hopefully) take better pictures than a cheap compact camera even if I used it on auto mode. So I set about learning how to use it, and I got the hang of it fairly quickly actually. Gone were the days of chopping peoples heads off, thankfully! Of course I had some fails too, but being digital, I could see that instantly, and give it another go. So, I taught myself. I've now upgraded that camera, and shoot mostly with a mirrorless system camera now, but sometimes I still use my DSLR.
I quickly came to discover the camera is art without the dreaded paintbrush! I still have to choose the correct settings, compose the shot correctly, and portray the scene how I see it. Maybe I want to emphasise the big black storm clouds, or maybe I want to focus on a pretty flower. Theres's a lot more to photography than people realise. While there is no real right or wrong way of doing it, it certainly is a lot more than just pressing a button. Mastering the camera settings is the easy part. But the real learning, I think, goes on indefinitely. That is the 'how to portray it' part, and instead of using a paintbrush to recreate what I see, I use a camera instead.