I’m not sure why I became fascinated with photography, but I believe I can trace my interest back to a few early events in my life.
I remember an aunt – a professional photographer - taking my picture when I was quite young. I was amazed with the equipment (cameras) she brought with her. They had all these dials, buttons, numbers, letters, glass and things. She would peer down into her camera, push a button and weeks later - magically - I would see my portrait. How did that happen?
Even before I became a reader I remember as a child sitting in our family’s study looking at picture books. The places, people and events in those books - all so foreign to me – were fascinating. I would sit for hours looking at pictures. I wanted to go there. I wanted to see wild places. I wanted to take pictures in those wild places. While I may not have pursued my photography/travel interests over the years for a variety of reasons, my desire to go places and take pictures persisted.
My first camera - and I am not sure how much truth there is to this story and how much of it is mere fantasy - appeared in my life when I was quite young. My father told me at the beginning of one summer that he would buy a me a camera if I swam across the pool. Finally I did just that, and Dad, as promised, bought me a Brownie. I have a vague memory of taking a few pictures with it, but mostly I remember my goal; getting a camera. Unfortunately my picture-taking interests faded. I was young and taking pictures was expensive, time-consuming and technical.
Later, when I spent a summer in Europe in my late teens, I took my first real camera with me. A Yashica J7. Taking pictures on that trip reignited my interest in photography. A year later while attending college I signed up for a number of photography classes. I learned about my camera, how to take a well-crafted picture, and I spent hours in the darkroom.
Unfortunately life/career got in the way of my interest in photography. I continued to take pictures but mainly when I was on trips. Because I wanted images that were better than just snap-shots, I would think critically about how I wanted to compose each shot. But beyond that there was little chance for me to work on my images because I did not have access to a darkroom. Digital photography changed all that.
Now I am a former educator who has discovered photography - again. After years of not having access to a darkroom, digital photography has allowed me to explore an art form that provides a myriad of opportunities for travel, exploration and creative expression.
Getting to where I am today as an artist has not been without some challenges. Digital photography can make almost anyone a photographer but not an artist. True artistry comes from within and not from a camera. And it has been that journey in recent years – discovering the artistry within - that has been both challenging and rewarding.
No longer is a camera taking pictures for me. I am using the camera to take the pictures that I first feel and then see. It is, for me, about authenticity. I want to create art where the process starts in my soul and not in my head. My camera and the software applications on my computer are tools, like the paintbrush for a painter or the chisel for a sculptor. They are just the vehicles that help me express my vision of the world I see.