I venture to say that not many of us simply decided one day to buy a camera and become a photographer. I certainly didn't, on the contrary, I was given a 35mm Canon Pellix SLR with a 50mm f1.4 prime lens as partial payment for work I had done for a friend. I believe I was 15 years old at the time and had never taken a picture in my life. After realizing this wasn't just a simple point and shoot instamatic, I purchased a copy of "The joy of photography" and quickly learned the basics of light, exposure and composition. I then anxiously began applying what I had learned, taking shots of all of my favorite places and people around me. Now Im talking about the old film days, when a single 36 exposure roll of Kodachrome was worth its weight in gold to me. Every single frame was carefully composed, and the exposure calculated numerous times in my head before the shutter was released.
It became apparent very early on that I had a knack for 'seeing' and I became intrigued by the magic of capturing an instant in time and understanding that what might be considered mundane by others looking at the same scene, that when caught in the perfect light at just the right perspective, was nothing short of pure art. Many great shots came from that first camera, but more than that, my passion for photography.
After a few years with the Canon, the Nikon F2 was released and I simply couldn't resist this sexy new camera being uesd by all of the pros at the time. So I saved enough for the F2A body and a 50mm f1.4 lens. This was a turning point for me and probably a familiar point in some of your experiences. Although I was getting consistently better results with the new F2, I subconsciously started spending more time dwelling on the technical aspects of the shot, and playing with the equipment, rather than seeing the final result in the viewfinder as I always had before. Funny how the fancy new toys tend to get in the way of our art. This has haunted me to some degree even to this day, But now I am very aware of it and try to keep it in check. Don't get me wrong, I captured some of my best photos ever with the F2 during this period, But I feel that I may have lost some of my natural ability to see also.
Other wonderful things came from this period as I spent nearly all of my senior year of High School in the darkroom learning roll film, sheet film, litho plates and printing. I even started my own darkroom and kept it through my mid 20s when I lost all of my prints, slides, negatives and many of our family's personal belongings to a hurricane. For many years after I simply had no desire to pick up a camera. I kept the F2 and a few other nikons came and went, but there was no passion left.
Enter the Digital Age.
20 years have past since I had any desire to hold a camera but this is when I became reaquainted with photography. Although the early digital cameras did not come close to equaling the F2 in terms of resolution, some of the other advantages were quite clear. Instant proofs while shooting! Changing color balance without filters or changing film!! The ability to shoot, proof, retouch, print and deliver all in the same day. WoW!
This brings us to the present day. I now have a variety of digital equipment that far exceeds the standards I had set with my trusted F2. Although my eyes are failing, the autofocus and live view features keep me coming back for more.
There are many, many more events during my life that have influenced my decision to continue to take pictures, But I would like to hear some of your stories.
Part Two to come: Some surprises with paid shoots.