How my love affair with photography began
When it comes to cameras, I get irrationally excited. Ever since my mom and dad put a little blue plastic 35mm camera in my pudgy 5-year-old hands and said, “Go nuts,” I’ve been obsessed with cameras and photography.
I really have to thank them for encouraging my passions. I suppose it was easier given my passions were theirs too. Writing is my mother’s passion (find her blog here), while photography is my father’s.
Each of my parents encouraged me in different ways.
As a child, I had numerous cameras, but as my passion for the art grew, my parents didn’t just handout better cameras. Instead, my Dad put my passion to the test. From his closet, he pulled out his old 35mm Pentax SLR.
The camera had a 50mm f/2.0 lens and unlike any of the digital point-n-shoots I’d had up to this point, it wasn’t automatic. No instant gratification to be had from this camera. It was also the first camera that forced me to learn how to set an exposure.
Needless to say, I fell in love faster than you could shake a Polaroid. There was something special about the shallow depth of field and fine grain that you only get from film.
Within a few minutes of picking up the camera, I’d figured out the basics. I had to read the light meter, choose the aperture I wanted and it would set the shutter speed for me. Unfortunately, with only 24 frames in each roll, I had to make them count. In those days you could just go out and buy another roll of film at the grocery store, but as an 11-year-old, that took money I didn’t have.
The beginnings of an education
From my mother, I received piles of books on photography. I would beg her to take me to the library so I could check out the next photography book in the series and to my glee she always did. She always encourged us kids to learn as much as we could about anything we were interested in.
I scoured those books from cover-to-cover gleaning every tip, trick and technique I could. I always wanted my next roll of film to come out better than the last. Those books taught me the principals of photography, but I’ll admit I never really stopped learning.
In high school, I read photography sites religiously. I was always looking for new techniques and guides to advance my skills. I wanted to try new things. I learned to develop film and read the light in the room without the aid of a meter. After all, none of my film cameras had one.
That was truly the beginning of my love affair with photography. It wasn’t getting the camera that did it for me, it was learning how to use it. No matter what I had in my hands, if it had a shutter, I would make it work.
Off to college
I began my formal photography education in college. In 2012 I enrolled in Winona State University’s Mass Communications photojournalism program. There, I was given access to the photo studio and darkroom. I eventually found a job as a photo worker teaching underclassmen advanced darkroom techniques. Moreover, I had free reign to explore the limits of photography.
Photography as a profession
After graduating from Winona State, I went to work as a reporter for the Coulee News and Courier-Life, two weekly newspapers in the Coulee Region of Western Wisconsin. I covered local news, wrote features and put my photojournalism education to good use.
During my two and a half years with the papers, I helped to publish nearly 120 issues each packed with my photographs.
As you can see, photography is part of who I am. I am certainly not the best photographer out there. There are many better, but it is something I enjoy, so I think I’ll keep taking pictures if only to post them here.
Check back next week to learn all about the cameras, accessories and software we use.
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