ABOUT ME – A little bit about my experience with photography.
The Elevator Pitch Version: I’ve been a photographer for over 30 years, first published and first paid as a photographer 25 years ago. For the past three years, I have been immersed in photography including photography school. I have gone pro.
The War and Peace length Version: My first “real” camera was given to me by my parents in 1980. It was a Zeiss Ikon Nettar medium format camera.
I was quickly off to the camera store to pick up what would be the first 120 roll film I had ever used. I loved the vintage feel of this camera and made my very best completely uneducated foray into “artsy” images, mostly abstract and a couple self portraits using the roof of my dad’s car as a tripod.
I recall reading a printed page with basic instructions on setting exposure and how to focus using the distance scale on the lens. I had to set everything manually, which in hindsight was a good beginning for me in the world of photography. Key Moment #1
Around that time, my father became interested in photography and purchased a Canon AE-1 from someone he worked with. I still remember putting my eye to the viewfinder and being blown away at the single-lens reflex design and how I could actually see what I was composing and preview the focus. I walked around the house with no film in the camera just seeing how the camera saw things.
In 1984, I purchased my own Canon AE-1, then later a Canon F-1. I became very interested in landscape and wildlife photography and shot many a roll of slide film. Shooting slides was more difficult, but I dreamed of being published and magazines and books used transparencies at that time. I learned rather quickly that shooting transparencies was unforgiving. You had to get the exposure bang on or you didn’t have much of a shot at all. With no way of previewing my exposures, I learned in a short time to meter and have a good idea of exposure before even pressing the shutter release. Key Moment #2
Pictured here is my first ever published image, a Tundra Swan which appeared in
a wildlife guide for British Columbia. Not the most amazing image I have ever recorded, but published nonetheless.
I really didn’t plan on being a full-time photographer. I just wanted to shoot things I liked and if I sold something, great. If not, I was just happy to be out with my camera. Consequently, I made a lot of pictures, but not much money, which was fine with me at the time.
In the early nineties, the opportunity presented itself to work with a photographer who shot product images for a retail store. My job was preparing the products for the photographer and his assistant to shoot. I was so intrigued with how the shots came together and how they were lit. I’m certain I must have driven the photographer crazy with all my questions. Fortunately, I must not have been too much of a pain because I was asked to be an assistant and also a second photographer for some corporate events.
I was inspired to be a paid photographer so I decided to start shooting weddings. For the first time in my professional life, I turned something I loved into something I didn’t enjoy as much, because I wasn’t shooting what I was passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are wonderful events and there are some fantastic wedding photographers who LOVE what they do. I came to the realization that my most inspired photography lay elsewhere. Key Moment #3
In 2005, my father passed away and left me his film camera gear. Five years later, I asked my mother if she thought dad would approve of me selling his older film equipment and buying a dSLR so that I could get back into photography more seriously. She liked that idea, so I bought a Canon T1i and a couple of kit lenses and started finding images. I committed to finding one interesting image per day. If I finished the year and still loved photography, I promised myself upgraded equipment.
Little did I know that during that year, my mother would be diagnosed with terminal cancer. The last thing I wanted to do was pick up my camera. Yet, mom encouraged me to keep shooting. She loved to look at the images I was making and bragged to her friends about my photography. You have to love moms for being your number one fan! While providing care for my mom and taking care of affairs after her passing in 2012, I found solace in making pictures. I knew both my parents would have appreciated my dedication. I also found concentrating on all that goes into making an image helped take my mind off the difficult matters at hand. Key Moment #4
To say the least, I rediscovered and found a deeper connection to photography. I vowed to continue and to learn all I could learn about my craft and my art. Since I was completely self-taught, I decided to enroll in a well known photography program at Langara College in Vancouver. Since graduating from the program, I have become an instructor at Langara. I believe that a formal program like Langara is the best way to have confidence in the many skills required for photography at a professional level.
Which brings me to today, at Key Moment #5, Professional Photography – Take 2. I have not forgotten the lesson of moment number three. While I don’t expect that every day will be roses and sunshine, I now make images that I enjoy creating as much as I enjoy the finished image itself.