My dad sent along his old camera when I went to Florida in 3rd grade -- that was the first time I caught hints of the shutterbug. I didn't really ever figure out how to use it. I spent the next few years playing around with a 110 cartridge camera. I don't think I have any images from that era. When I went to Germany before my junior year in high school, and came back with ~25 rolls of film, I discovered that when I actually had a camera that sorta worked, I could take some OK photos. Of course, the 5 rolls of film that came back blank from my time in Berlin (since I didn't load the camera properly) motivated me to learn more about how to use a camera, and helped steer me into a photography class.
I started formal photography training my senior year in high school, taking a class and learning the basics. Once I got in the darkroom I instantly was hooked. I spent as much time in there as I could, and went on to take as much photography as I could at my community college. Like most others, Ansel Adams was a big inspiration to me, and as I studied photography more and more, I grew to appreciate the Westons, Minor White, Man Ray, Imogen Cunningham, and Alfred Stieglitz. Galen Rowell and Art Wolfe were modern photographers, too, that I grew to appreciate. I won a few awards and prizes at contests, but when it came time to really decide what I wanted to do when I grew up, I decided to stick with pursuing a 'real' job -- being a teacher. After 4 more years of college, I didn't complete my degree in education, and ended up with a German degree. I wish I would've stuck with photography (not that having a German degree is something to be ashamed of -- I just know more photography than I do German). I ended up with a real job programming web pages for a state government agency. When I'm not daydreaming about photography...
Between my last photography class and 2006, I didn't do much serious photography. I shot a few things here and there, but my SLR was mostly mothballed. I got my first digital point-and-shoot in 2001, and then a second in 2005, and that started reawaking my inner photographer. Finally, in 2005, I reacquainted myself with the SLR and then in 2006 I bought my first dSLR. Since then, I'm re-learning all the stuff I learned the first time around, and learning the differences between working in the "analog" and digital darkrooms. While the nostalgic side of me would love to spend hours upon hours in the "analog" darkroom, the more practical side of me enjoys the convienences and enhancements of the digital darkroom.
But the artist in me is still under development.
I came to 'Sig in 2006, and have found a new appreciation for critiquing photographs. It took some braveness to submit at first, but it made me better and more confident when people shared what they saw -- good and bad -- in my photographs. Then I started looking a little deeper into others' works and reading critiques from several people here -- often spending a few hours just reading critiques. It's helped me develop the skill of understanding a photograph as a work of art, and see deeper than just the rudimentary elements of composition and technical details. I haven't yet read "Looking At Photographs" by John Szarkowski, but it's on my list. I'd guess, though, that it should be required reading for everyone in this community.
Now, I'm wondering if I can see other people's photographs better than I can my own...
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