For The Love of Photography

David John Pattenden

1945 - 2000

Today, 12 years ago, I lost my Dad in a tragic car accident. I had thought of doing one of those mushy blog posts about him, but that’s just not me. I would probably get bored reading someone else’s mushiness along those lines, so I didn’t want to bore anyone else with mine. And besides, in an ode to one’s Dad, where does one end?!

Then, while driving this morning and thinking of blog ideas, photography popped into my head. It’s absolutely perfect, because my Dad is the one who started my passion for photography!

So, Dad, this is for you. Words can’t come anywhere near close enough to describing how much I love you and miss you.

My Dad was always taking photos. And along with my Mom, our pets, cars, drag racing, athletics (I’m proud to say he was a Springbok Masters athlete!) and a few other odds and ends, I was usually the main focus (no pun intended). My entire childhood is very well chronicled! I have albums and albums of good-old-fashioned printed photographs! Unfortunately, I don’t have them with me right now, or I would scan a few of Dad’s pics to share here.

Of course, as soon as I was deemed old enough (can’t remember exactly, but no older than 10), he proudly gave me my first (hand-me-down) Kodak Instamatic, and started schooling me in this art he so loved. He sometimes even let me use his SLR! Needless to say, I became totally hooked!

I loved how this was “our” thing only, Dad – something we bonded so well over. I miss those moments so much.

Kodak Instamatic

My first camera was identical to this.

Before you could say “cheese”, I was happily snapping away at anything and everything! In my early adult years, I got my first SLR (still film “in those days”), and after that I was pretty much never without my camera! I subscribed to all the photography magazines I could get my hands on, and I was especially besotted with Practical Photography magazine from the UK, which my family there kindly gifted to me as a subscription. I’m quite a creative person, but not especially artistic. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, for example. But photography gave me an outlet for my creativity, and I revelled in every moment and every image.


Taken in Mauritius.

Lovers Statue in Monaco Botanic Gardens

Pic I took of a statue in Monaco Botanic Gardens. Digitally enhanced and framed for friend's Silver Wedding Anniversary.

A few months after Dad’s death, while reading Camera & Image magazine (I can’t seem to find it online, is it still going?) I came across an opportunity to open a digital photography franchise. I pretty much had enough money to do it (being the only child, everything of Dad’s was left to me), and I was experiencing the 7 year itch with the industry I was working in at the time. Dad was not a big risk taker (read: ultra conservative), and I think he would have absolutely freaked if he’d known what I was doing with his money! But, with a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and crocodile tears at times, the biz was very successful!

See, Dad? You would have been proud, despite your skepticism 🙂

After 5 years of living, eating, breathing and sleeping photography, I lost the will to photograph anything anymore. Ever. I sold the business for a handsome sum, sold all my personal photography equipment, and never looked back. Until now.

{Ha! I’ve just realized that was 7 years ago! Maybe there’s some truth to this “itch” theory?}

Yesterday, while having a sundowner with a friend, I noticed the reflection in my sunglasses on the table, and took a snap of it with my phone. It got me thinking for a few seconds, quickly dismissed by another glass of wine. And then this blog post started formulating in my mind and has now been put into words. I think the bug may have officially bitten again…

The tipping point?

That, my friends, is the history of my love of photography, in a nutshell. I do believe it is once again going to have a future, and I’m actually quite excited by that prospect! I have a lot of catching up to do…

One of these days, I’m going to publish a book of all the pictures I did not take. 
Rene Burri


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  1. #1 by Kenny on January 18, 2012 - 9:36 pm

    Love the read, thanks for sharing. I know that camera, too.

  2. #3 by Bo on January 18, 2012 - 10:05 pm

    This is such a stunning post! It made me think of my dad and how we used to go with him to camera club every month and get so excited when his photos got gold! I often want to tell my dad just how much he means to me, but always out it off. After reading this, I realise that I’m so blessed that my dad is still alive, that I should do it. And soon! Thanks! Great blog!

    • #4 by Liz Laughalot on January 18, 2012 - 11:00 pm

      Aw Bo, thank you 🙂 Never be shy to tell the people you love, just how much you do. I’ve since learnt to tell my good friends that I love them, at the end of almost every phone convo, or when we part after spending time together. It does freak a few people out, but my mates are used to it now 🙂

  3. #5 by bianca on January 19, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    Awesome. What an ode to your Dad. I think it is time to get creative again

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