What is it about photography that people find interesting?
For me, at about 14 or 15 it was just something new to do. At first I didn't put any significance to taking pictures. It was not even an interest in personal or family history or memories. It was just fighting boredom, like fishing, or bowling, or a day at the beach.
Slowly, during my time in the US Air Force, I began to think of photography in a more serious way. I started reading photographic magazines and finding books of photography or about photography. The notion of photography as a means of communication, like writing, was forming in me. That's when I purchased my first serious camera (a Pentax Spotmatic). I started going out for the sole purpose of creating photographic images - to be creative and to communicate.
I learned about different film types, exposure, depth-of-field, stop-action, purposeful blur and panning. I learned to develop film, make prints and enlargements.
Nearly, two years later, I added a second Spotmatic body and extra lenses to my equipment. I also purchased a good, strong flash unit.
I realized today that I've been taking pictures for fifty years. Wow, how time does go by. How did this happen?
When I left the military, I decided to see if I could write and photograph professionally. At SIU, I signed up for mass communication as my major and art as my minor. The classes in broadcast journalism and radio proved that I was nor cut out for on-air journalism. But the reporting, writing, law, and photo-journalism classes and I got along quite well. Photography was becoming my strongest interest and by my senior year I was photo editor of the university's daily newspaper and responsible for the weekend pull-out section of the Thursday edition.
While I was studying at SIU, I did wedding photography and free-lance work for area newspapers and magazines.
So my primary interest in photography became it's ability to communicate. I also appreciate the creative and art aspects of photographs. But I get just as excited about a guy playing accordion on the streets of Portland as I do about the beauty of the mountains in Denali, Alaska.
To recap 50 years of photography, I can say that I spent only one-year working as a professional photographer at the Metro-East Journal in East St. Louis, Illinois. I moved to Michigan to work for the US Army as a technical writer, then as an editor, and finally as a publication program manager. The regular hours and stability made it easier to raise a family and have a "normal" life.
But I continued to take pictures and to learn more about photography. I took photographs of everything; dance, fireworks, my children, landscapes, flowers, insects, performances, politicians, musicians, wildlife, public events, private parties, portraits.
I've taken more bad photos than I have good. I struggled with film photography
as I raised my children during the 1980's. I could no longer have a darkroom in my home (too expensive, too time-consuming, too isolating). I tried to depend on labs to produce quality prints of my photographs and was too-often disappointed. I was considering giving up and then digital photography technology happened. Oh, at first it was difficult to achieve the quality of film. But I could see the potential. Soon Adobe Photoshop brought excellent control to my computer. Canon provided my first digital SLR camera (pretty decent quality). Suddenly photography was wonderful again! I was able to capture photos I liked (even in low light). I was able to control what the final print would look like.
I retired from work and began taking more photographs than I ever did before.
And I really enjoy not having to stop to change film.
The result of 50 years of photography - this web site.