Hopes and dreams of an amateur photographer – it is never too late
Hey there, my name is Juanita McKenzie. I am an amateur photographer based in the UK but originally from Cape Town, South Africa. I love photography, music, art (including street art) and exploring new places – I will frequently go off for a wander with camera in hand, searching for street art, exploring local landmarks or going a little further afield. I hope in the future to travel more and perhaps to start a travel blog or maybe even write a book. I forgot to mention that I am an aspiring writer, and perhaps one day this could be a reality. I am a little bit of a late starter perhaps as these creative aspirations stem back to my teenage years, but I do believe all things happen in the right time and when we are really ready. It is never too late to explore new directions!
Thank you to Lara for being an amazing source of encouragement and inspiration, and for inviting me to share something about my photography on this blog – I really appreciate your friendship and all that you do!
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Photography defines me – As real as it gets
In preparing this piece I thought very deeply about what photography means to me and why it is such an important part of my life. It is this that I hope to share here.
Photography allows me to be who I really am…. not the version of myself that people want or expect me to be, the dulled down pale versions of me, the bits that fit the status quo, not the masks and the outer veneer. Photography is the real me, the whole of me, heart and soul. It is the raw and unpolished me, the spontaneous and uncensored me, the deeper aspects of myself finding expression at last.
It has always been there, this creative side that I protected so carefully from a world that can walk rough shod on fragile young dreams. I have kept it safe so long, I had almost forgotten it was there. Through many twists and turns along the journey of life, through the knocks and dents and scrapes, through the heartbreaks and disappointments, somewhere along the way, that part of my nature receded so far that it became almost a shadow, a ghost, a haunting.
Finally expressing my feelings – That inner spark
But that spark, no matter how small, could not be entirely extinguished because it is so deeply a part of my essence, the very fabric of my being.
We all have that spark, somewhere within us, unique to each one of us – it is always there, asking to be expressed somehow, to give to the world that very thing that makes us unique. For me, this is photography. It is what I feel was always within me longing to be expressed, always causing a restlessness deep within my being, tugging on my heart every day in all that I saw and all that I felt. I am sure you too have experienced this before and have known there is some dream within you begging to be pursued. I have always had big emotions, at times they felt too big for me, but it was only when I picked up a camera just about two years ago, that those immense feelings had a way to fully be expressed and shared. I did not realise at the time how very important this would prove to be.
A camera in hand – And so I feel alive
I just started taking photographs because I loved it, because it felt right and because it really was the only time I ever felt completely comfortable in my being, completely and fully alive.
With camera in hand, I did what I always did before – I walked, I explored, I observed, I felt, and I experienced the world around me. Only this time, I had a way to capture and share what I discovered, my perspective, the way I saw the world. In many ways it was a process of self-discovery or perhaps it was more a process of self-recovery. This part of myself so long forgotten and so well hidden needed to be expressed and shared no matter how vulnerable or exposed it made me feel. So, I made a very small but significant promise to myself, one commitment that I vowed I would keep…
Finding Instagram – An unexpectedly incredible journey
I set up an Instagram account just over a year ago and promised to share just one photo a day. I did not think more about it, just kept up with the posts never really expecting anything from it. It was just about the act of sharing a single photo a day and keeping that promise I had made. I never anticipated that I would discover such an amazing supportive and positive community. I did not expect to make the beautiful and real friendships that I have done. I also did not realise that my photography would matter to anybody other than me or that the way I saw the world would inspire others. It has been an incredible journey, a beautiful and humbling experience, and I have learned that when I express myself fully through my heart, it is this that people feel and respond to, it is this that creates connections with others and it is this that creates something worthwhile in the world.
Hope dreams and… Magic – Sharing the gift
I do not want to capture perfect images; I want to capture moments that express feelings and tell stories. I want to capture the imperfections and flaws, those things that make us real and unique.
I want to capture the beauty that is always there, even where we least expect to find it. I want to bring back the magic in a world that sometimes forgets how to believe in something more. This is the gift that photography has brought into my world – and hopefully – a gift that I can share with others. If I can inspire just one person to follow their dreams, or tell just one story that matters, or help just one person to see the beauty within themselves or another, then I would know that my small life has made a big difference”
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind
To see more of my work, please follow me on Instagram: