A lot of people ask me what I do when I’m not retouching photos or planning for my next photography session. As you might expect, that’s a multifaceted answer. I’ve got a dog who needs training and a cat who believes every waking moment should be spent with her and her alone. There’s also lawns that need watering, birds that need feeding, and books that need reading.
In the midst of all of that, one hobby I always try to carve out time for is origami.
I first fell in love with folded paper almost five years ago, and while I have an on again / off again relationship with origami due to time constraints, my next origami project is never far from my mind.
Since I started origami, I’ve folded all sorts of goofy things. I mostly enjoy folding animals, but I’ll occasionally fold out geometric shapes and repeating patterns, too. Every fold is a mystery and every designer adds his or her own personality and flavour to the art itself.
What I’ve always found fascinating about origami is that it’s a language in diagrams. When I fold designs from Spanish, Italian, or Korean origamists, I do it with no understanding of their natural language. Many times, there are no translations available, so — like music — it all comes down to reading the lines on the page and figuring everything out from there.
Don’t get me wrong: Origami is frustrating. Most people pick hobbies that allow them to relax. I have a few of those, too, but origami gives me a unique ability to unwind in a different way — by escaping into creases, folds, and lines. That’s not to say that folding paper is easy. Origami can be unforgiving. Fold the paper incorrectly, and it will rip. Misinterpret the diagram, and you’ll reach the end.
Yet, at the same time, when you finally complete that first fold and find yourself looking at a finished product, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences there is. Of course, if it’s your first completed fold, it’s probably terrible. In that case, you’ve got to grab a new sheet of paper and start the entire fold over again until it’s perfect.
For many origamists, that’s where the journey ends. However, because I’m a photographer, I have to take it one step further. Once I’ve my perfect piece, folded on the right type of paper with the creases exactly how I want them, I’ll set up a small tabletop scene and professionally light and process them.
Doing this gives me the ability to practice a different form of photography (tabletop/macro), and gives me the ability to display my folded pieces in a different way. I usually post them over to Instagram or share them with friends. Often times, they end up as desktop and smartphone wallpapers.
And, very occasionally, they end up in photo sessions!
Over the years, people have asked me to monetize origami. Fold 1000 cranes for a wedding or create a centerpiece for a banquet, but I always turn them down. For a lot of people, photography is a hobby and an art form. I figure that I’ve already turned one hobby into a small business — and there are ups and downs to it.
I’d rather keep as a hobby just for me. At the very least, my sore fingers will thank me for that.