My interest in photography first appeared when I bought a Minolta Maxxum 7000 in the mid-1980s. I took on a car trip to the Southwest and spent the time taking pictures of architectural details and flowers. To this day my memories of New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada are rooted in those pictures. When I showed them to my family, the universal question was: where are the people?
The next trigger came when Sony released the first commercial electronic still camera, the Mavica. When it started using the 3.5” 1.4 floppy drives that my Macintosh Computer also used I joined the bandwagon. The CCD sensor produced analog signals so this was not a digital camera but I was entranced how turning the camera just degrees I could monitor the image on its LCD and capture images lit just so by natural light.
Digital photography really happened for me when Canon released the Digital Rebel, a consumer-level DSLR with interchangeable lenses, in 1990. The APS-C sized sensor was small but I felt like a professional taking pictures with my one zoom lens. I took that camera to NYC where I promptly short-circuited the lens mount when I threw in a ripe banana with the camera in my backpack. But I was already hooked to a big camera with manual capabilities although I still shot auto focus.
I used the Canon Rebel and a subsequent newer version on it on trips to Europe. It was producing JPG images and even when Camera Raw became available I still shot JPGs through 2008. In those early years I was usually the only one in the group shooting on digital cameras as we visited Spain, France, and Italy. My tour mates were all in awe of my photography although I was not using the full potential of manually setting the cameras. The chief advantage was being able to shoot dozens of pictures because I didn’t have to buy film!
Professional photography really became a reachable, desirable goal when I shot my first model in May 2008. Crouching on the floor to shoot Kaleb against the brand-new white vinyl background in my living room I thought to myself: this is what I want to do. For the first time ever in my life, and I dramatize only slightly, I was doing something that made electricity flow through my brain, hair stand on my body, and visions of finally coming to my own filling my overwrought mind.
2010 brought other innovations. I started shooting in Camera Raw in 2009 and in 2010 started shooting exclusively in manual mode. I bought my first Alien Bees and radio triggers and discovered shooting with natural light and without the elegant white background. This fall I shot outdoors with surprisingly good images. I’ve been watching CreativeLive workshops on photography which has immensely added to technical and creative savvy.
I think 2011 is the year I’ll break into commercial operation. We’ll just have to see. I still have much to learn about photography. I can finetune my choice of lens and lighting is always a great challenge. There are also tricks of trade such as those that Jeremy Cowert demonstrated that he used for creating album covers for bands. The possibilities continue to grow.