Photography has been a hobby of my dad’s since he was in college. While I was growing up he photographed weddings as a side job, and before that he played around with portraits and processing. He has drawers and boxes brimming with photos- family, landscape, nature, you name it. At my parents’ house there’s a framed series of shots he took when I was just a few weeks old. He set up a homemade portrait studio in our basement- a white sheet as a background, some lighting, and a stool. The result is a number of black and white shots of me with each of my parents. When I was a kid he’d let me take his photo with his 35mm, showing me how to hold it and how to advance the film with my thumb using the metal lever and waiting for that satisfying click. Photography, in some form, has always been a part of my life.
My first camera was a neon yellow 110. I took it to summer camp, on vacation, and out to the backyard (somewhere there’s a roll I shot of toads that my friends and I caught, all of them lined up in a wagon). From there it was various point-and-shoots, until my dad passed along his Minolta SLR to me when I went to college. I didn’t use it a lot because I was so nervous about damaging it (the thing was so solid though- it was all metal, heavy, substantial), but I did bring it with me to London- some of my favorite photos from my months there were taken on Dad’s old Minolta. For college graduation in 2003, my parents bought me my own Minolta SLR. It was just before the digital camera age took over, and within a few years I didn’t have much patience for film. I used Patrick’s digital camera (an early Canon A-series point-and-shoot) and in 2006 I bought a Canon Digital Elph- a camera I still use quite a bit– I’m thinking of replacing the little guy with a newer model (conveniently, Elphs are now less than half what I paid three years ago). My main camera now is the Nikon D80 that Pat and I share- a wedding gift to ourselves, this is a camera we spent many years lusting after. I still have a lot to learn on it, and I still use my point-and-shoot fairly often, but the D80 is an amazing piece of equipment.
All along the way though, I’ve documented- regardless of the camera. I can’t tell you the number of times friends have confessed to not worrying about bringing a camera along anymore because they knew I’d be taking pictures. And if I wasn’t snapping, Pat certainly would be. I have albums and albums of photos from each phase of my life- although I admit most albums of the past few years are in the form of Flickr sets. I just checked– 2,785 of my photos live on Flickr, posted between February 2005 and now.
I’m not a great photographer, and I have tons to learn (I’ve never taken a photography class, beyond 8th grade tech ed, but I’m always on the lookout for one- I’d love to. I tried to beg my way into a photo class in college, but without the studio art pre-reqs it was a lost cause). I enjoy the experience of taking photos and the way of seeing that happens when I have a camera in hand. I love documenting this way– for me, it’s been more about the moment and the emotion than the technicalities (although I recognize the importance of understanding the technology and concepts, and I know I need work on both fronts). But throughout my life I’ve wanted to remember these times, these places, these people, and these feelings. Sometimes writing does it for me, but sometimes only the snap of my camera will do.