My first exposure to photography was watching my mother turn our kitchen into a darkroom. She had taken a class at the commmunity college, and fallen in love with the medium so much that she bought all the gear to turn our home into a makeshift darkroom one or two nights a week. I hated being ‘stuck’ in the kitchen for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the images to go in the fixitive, so I could once again open the kitchen door, and escape to the living room.
When I reached college a friend asked me to take a photography course with him. While the homemade darkroom had long since vanished, my mother still had all the camera equipment which I was able to use. I enjoyed the medium immediately, and found the challenge of gathering images a rush. Over the next 7 years I would add a photography minor to my college degree, work in a 1-hour lab, a professional color print lab, and as a darkroom tech for a portrait studio.
I never lost the enjoyment for photography. However, the cost of film, developing, and printing became such that I was unable to shoot as often as I liked. I also discovered that unless I took detailed notes for each frame I exposed, I would never realize what I had done with a shot to get the effects I saw in my images. The learning curve had flatlined. Photography was reduced to a means to document my vacations. Once I was married, and my kids started arriving, my photography interest had all but vanished.
Then came the DSLR.
Digital cameras had progressed rapidly… and while the initial investment was big, there was no more buying $7 rolls of film, or paying $8 processing fees to look at a bunch of images I didn’t like. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with in a year I would make up for the cost of the camera in savings on film and developing. Digital cameras also had a viewing screen that allowed me to see images moments after I took the photo. Seeing my mistakes so quickly allowed me to learn how to correct them, and push myself to experiement more.
In Novemeber 2006, I took my oldest son on a hike to Whiskeytown Falls. In addition to spending time with my son, my goal was to figure out how to make the waterfall images where the water was blurred to create movement. I figured it out, and the seed was planted for landscape photography.
Over the next few years I began shooting more and more regularly. As someone who has never been particularly fond of the outdoors, I found myself forced to step outside my comfort zone more and more to get images I was happy with.
I think the best part of the experience has been the realization that we live in a beautifully created world that science can’t explain. Every time I see an amazing sunset or sunrise, I’m reminded how good God is… and how perfectly the world was made. I can only hope that I’m blessed enough to somehow convey that to everyone else with my images.
I know I don’t always succeed, but I certainly enjoy the effort.