Op-Ed: Covid-19 brought my passion for photography back to life

A moment of a Palestinian bride leaving her family behind on her wedding day.

Razan Makhlouf, Reporter

It’s been almost a year since the lockdown began, and now, even when lockdowns and quarantines have eased out, there’s no going back to our normal lives it seems, at least not for me.
I have been a wedding photographer for over a decade. I built a name for myself, and I loved the idea of working in a field I am so passionate about. I was privileged to do what I love and get paid for it. But little did I know that photographing weddings for so long was sabotaging my passion for photography.
My camera and I have not been on the best of terms for a while now, even before the pandemic hit. When I thought it was like this, I was hurt. My passion for photography was gradually waning. What had excited me before no longer excites me.
It was easier for me to put the blame financially and emotionally on the pandemic, especially with businesses temporarily closed, events either postponed or canceled, and social distancing is still in effect. So I sulked, I wept and didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.
The more time passed by, the more downtime I had, and I found myself reminiscing the old days of glory I had with my camera. I started going through thousands and thousands of images I captured throughout the years, and surprisingly they were not related to the weddings I shot. Some I remembered while others I forgot about. The more images I looked at, the more I realized that just because I have been doing photography in a certain way for years, doesn’t mean there is no room for more growth in other areas.
I started embracing the idea of selling my work online. After all, the world is more connected now than it ever was. I joined photography groups where I learned from other photographers’ experiences and struggles. That assured me that I was not alone with my struggles. I printed landscape photos I have taken and even ended up using the walls of my house as a gallery for my work. Recently, I finally picked up the camera and took pictures of my dog the day before the euthanasia. As painful as that was, it was a crucial moment for me to pick up my camera again.
COVID-19 made me realize that I can turn my hobby into a business as a wedding photographer. COVID-19 made me understand that we as photographers today are too obsessed with how many likes we get. We click that mouse a thousand times a day, to an extent that we forget the essence of why we are working.
If the pandemic has taught me anything, it taught me that whether you are a paid photographer or not, one needs to remember that every time that camera clicks a memory is being memorialize. And at the end of the day, those memories will be the only thing left to mark your legacy as photographers.
I do not earn the same amount of money I was making before, nor do I have the same recognition I had in the photography industry, but I am grateful I can bring back a piece I felt was stolen from me.