When I was growing up, I fantasized about being a photographer for National Geographic. Taking on big, brave adventures on African safari, roaming the vibrant bustle of a market in India, exploring the less traveled alleyways in Rome—all with only a camera in hand, ready to capture a prized, fleeting moment.

My mom stored hundreds of back issues of National Geographic in the pantry of my childhood home. I have no idea why. Perhaps she saw the same magic that I did, spread across the glossy pages. I would sit on the floor of our pantry, next to the bin of Yukon Gold potatoes, flipping through the yellow-lined stacks to spot one or two issues that piqued my interest.  Once I found my muses, I’d immerse myself in their stories for hours—often trying to capture the same beauty with lead and paper—and imagining myself trekking the world’s curiosities, armed with a big black camera and case.

I’m not a professional photographer. In fact, I’m hesitant to even label myself an amateur. I don’t know how to properly use my rustic Canon AE-1 and I’m most likely not fully maximizing the potential of my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. But I love both of these cameras and hold onto them like secret treasures. Whether I cherish these old-fashioned devices because they represent a childhood dream, a creative aspiration, or both, I’m not sure. But there’s something enchanting about watching the world from behind a lens. And there’s a special reward in being able to capture a moment that words cannot describe.

Maybe one day soon I’ll get the courage to pursue photography as more than a hidden hobby. Until then, I’ll tinker with my Canons, plunge into NatGeo’s rich stories and dream up my cross-country expeditions.


AuthorHanah Holpe