The Importance Of The Red Shoebox

Street Photography: The Importance Of The Red Shoebox

"You may let go of your dream but your dream will never let go of you.
Once it nestles down in your soul, it never leaves."

What happens when you find an old, dusty box with long forgotten photographic films? Maybe you throw them away. And maybe they change your life. I know they changed mine.

When I was twelve, I took my parents' old, heavy camera, borrowed a photography textbook from the library, and set off on a summer adventure. Self-taught, clumsy, yet passionate, I succumbed to the charm of seeing the world through my lens.

I spent all my pocket money on black and white films. Me and my camera. Best friends, connected by irresistible attraction. We were inseparable that summer, documenting the world that surrounded us, day and night. When the summer was over, I had dozens of films, all neatly arranged in a red shoe box.

This could be the beginning of a wildly successful photographer's story: I discovered my calling when I was a kid, I went to photography school, and the rest was history. Well, not really.

The films in the red shoe box never got developed. I begged and pled, but for my parents, my photography adventures were just a summer whim and all those films would have been too expensive to develop.

I was heartbroken. I returned to school, and when the red shoe box disappeared from my room one day, I knew I had to let go.

You may let go of your dream but your dream will never let go of you. Once it nestles down in your soul, it never leaves. For years, I collected photography books and prints, I visited breathtaking photography exhibitions all around the world, and I became a passionate photography lover and enthusiast. I built my career on words but my heart never stopped longing for images. Something was missing, and my life never felt complete, whole, mine.

Many, many years later, in a particularly difficult time, I was clearing out the basement of my parents' house, and found an old red shoe box. The red shoe box. I still remember the feeling of holding it in my hands, in disbelief, in awe. I went upstairs, sat on a sofa with the box still unopened, excited about what might be inside, scared it wouldn't be there. 

When I carefully removed the lid, my eyes welled up with tears. There they were. My black and white films. Memories of the summer when it all began and ended. Memories of me.

I had them developed, and spent many nights sitting on the floor, contemplating the images. Their soulful beauty took my breath away. Those pictures were not taken by a child, those pictures were taken by the heart of a photographer who had just been born.

At that moment, I knew what I had to do. I understood what had been missing all those years. That moment saved my life. 

It took me twenty years to return home, but I finally arrived. I became the photographer I had always longed to be, giving wings to the calling of my soul. Since that day, photography has been a dance whose steps are whimsically unpredictable and deliciously surprising. My way of creating beauty and joy, my way of sharing my world with you.