What Is Your Background In Photography? Post An Interesting Story.
In this discussion, I hope you will share your background in photography. How did you start? How were you trained? Do you have an interesting, personal story you can share here. Feel free to post more than one story if you like.
My family loved to photograph, but none were professional. They just enjoyed taking pictures of people, places and things in their lives. We did not have much money so the family camera was a little Ansco box camera. It had a tiny, blurry viewfinder on top. I loved that camera, so I suppose I came by the passion naturally.
Photography took flight for me when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I was an engineering student at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and I was in the Cooperative program. That is a work-study program where students alternate school quarters or semesters with working in industry. I landed a co-op job with NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, during the Apollo Program. I still consider that job, even though it was only every other three months, as the most interesting job I ever had.
I worked in a physics lab. One of my responsibilities was to collect sunspot data. It was all very primitive compared to today's science. One of the other co-op students and I would drive out to the telescopes and collect film. Yes, not digital, but film. We were using Nikon F cameras. We would then drive back to the photo lab and develop the film. It would be printed and scientists would review the photographs. Ultimately, the data was used to help protect astronauts in space. It is much, much more sophisticated today.
For me, those sessions in the NASA darkroom was all it took to get me hooked on photography. There were a lot of other events and detours in the road, but that time in the lab was the beginning for me.
I attached a photograph of me setting up equipment to capture sunspot data.
I, too, started with a small Ansco box camera - was fascinated with pictures at an early age. My parents gifted be with a home darkroom kit for my 11th birthday - and it all grew from there. The kit only did contact prints so my photographs were quite small (from 620 size roll film). I earned money by cutting our neighbors lawn and at age 12 I got a newspaper route - but I eventually earned enough $$ to buy an enlarger. Wow - I could make prints up to 8x10 - I was in heaven.
When in high school I got a job in the town camera store. We had a fully equipped B&W darkroom there and the boss taught me a lot. One of our customers was a wedding photographer and he to the time to teach me that craft. I helped pay my way through college (to eventually become a teacher) by shooting weddings.
The only "story" I find interesting is that I signed up for a photography class in college as an elective - and was dismissed by the professor on the first day. Kutztown State College (now University) had a well-known Art Education program and he said his course was only for art majors so I needed to leave. I was a geography education major. I complained to our department head - who was a friend of the art department head - and I was back in that class the next week. Of course the prof had a bit of a grudge - but he soon overcame that when he saw I was actually assisting him in helping other students learn darkroom procedures. We only had one "color" project that semester - with color transparency film (slides) - and I received the only "A" grade for that project assignment. My semester final grade was a B+. The prof apologized and said I really earned an "A" - but he could only give those to real art majors. Ha, a likely story. Right?
I eventually had a home darkroom where I could process color and well as B&W. However, I still have an affinity for B&W photography.
I have now been using a camera and doing my own "processing" for 65 years. YIKES !!!
At about 10, a radio shack optical project kit was gifted to me.
https://www.rcgrabbag.com/science-fair-optical-lab-kit-sf-3000-1972/ It was very intricate and it taught me the mechanics involved with lens, filters, and telescope construction. Years later I would learn about the lens grinder equations and other physics of optics.
I became much more interested in the way we see rather than what we see.
At least lens technology still is the foundation for modern photography.
I was given a Polaroid Instamatic when I was very young. I was immediately hooked. Such a great feeling to see a photo develop right before your eyes!
Our family business during my childhood was a three shift typesetting company, which produced a wide variety of print publications via the old "hot metal" linotype machines. I loved spending time in the photo dark room, and in the small photo studio.
As a kid I had an old Kodak Brownie and a couple other film cameras that I played around with, but I never really got serious about photography as a creative process until the digital age.
In my mid 20's I started carrying disposable 35mm cameras in my fishing tackle to document my outdoor adventures. I remember reading an article in a fishing magazine about improving your fishing photos, and just taking some of the basic tips given in the article into consideration showed me that I could drastically improve my photos.
Sometime in my late 20's I bought my first digital camera, and really started to get more serious about photography. Particularly nature photos, because I spent so much time outdoors and witnessed so many wonderful and beautiful things. I wanted to be able to share that wonder with others. It would be another 10 years or so before I started to invest in more serious camera gear and some continuing ed and online type courses.
I've never worked in photography related jobs or done any commercial or commissioned photography. It's been strictly an artistic endeavor for me.
Mine is simple. I believe it was 1985 that I wanted to get into photography but the cost of gear (and being newly married) prevented me. I struck up a friendship with a local wedding photographer and tried to stop once a day at his studio (back then a lot of photographers had studios) for a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze about photography. I told him my interest and the dilemma with the pricing of gear. With my wife's permission he took me to the local pro camera store and I bought a Bronica ETRS, a Sunpack strobe and bracket. I 2nd shot weddings with him until he died a few years later. I then went out on my own.
Mine is pretty simple. My first camera was a 2 MP digital when I was in my early 20s but never did much with it. However it wasn't until my early 30's that an ex girlfriend wanted an activity for us to do together so she signed us up for a photography boot camp. After that I was hooked and I went out and bought a Nikon D3100 then started to go on walks in the nature preserves near my apartment to start taking as many photos as I could.
After her and I were no longer together, I hit the road as a healthcare IT consultant and I was able to see many different parts of the country while I was working. I would go out and start hiking at national parks and places all over taking lots of pictures wanting to get better and better. I also took some courses at a community college which focused not only on the technical aspects but also on composition. After I completed those courses I have never looked back and this has been a huge hobby of mine going on 12 years now.
@William HuntonI: I, too, was an engineering student at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech - 1950s), and I was in the Cooperative program. But I was not cut out to be an engineer, but it did give me a chance to become a TV cameraman, since camera-persons had to know how to work on a camera if it went down. After working camera a couple of years I became a director, moved to Hollywood, and directed for the networks for 35 years or so. I'm now 92 (today) and learning DaVinci Resolve, so that I can create videos all over again.
My first camera was a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera - very popular back in the 1950s, and sold like hot-cakes for over a decade. I won a prize in a high school Kodak contest and after it was published in the local newspaper, they called and offered me a staff photographers job, so I did that for the summer before heading to Ga. Tech.
William and Chuck, it's a small world. I too am connected with Georga Tech. That is where I set for my Fundamentals of Engineering Certification.
I became interested in how micro film technology evolved into micro chip manufacturing and the whole spy vs spy photography technology of the cold war. The historical significance of photography and how it altered the art world are where much of my interests remain regarding art history.
Now, film making also interest me. All of this cuz somebody was able to grind crystals and focus light such that the light altered matter into recognizable intelligence.
I started at age seven. I was gifted an old Agfa Silette camera. By age 15 my Father gifted me a new Nikkormat FT-3 with a 50mm f2 Nikkor lens. The fire was lit! I carried on shooting through the years until about 1990 when I transitioned away from the Army (Artillery) to the Airforce as a Photographer. Shot with mainly Hasselblad's (500CM, 501CM, 503cx, and 503cxi cameras), Nikon 35mm (mainly the F3 HP), and 4x5 (Combo Monorail in the studio, Linhof Technorama in the field). During my time in the Airforce we started to transition to digital photography. This was around 1995. I was shooting with Kodak DCS-620 DSLRs.
After the Airforce I got a job at a local Photography Studio/Camera Store based on my digital background. Did a lot of portrait work, some commercial work, and a lot of Artwork. Did some weddings as well. Now I am retired and do mainly Landscape photography in colour and B&W. I figure I have been seriously pursuing photography for about 47 years.
Drew and Chuck, I was wondering if there were any Tech folks among this great gathering of artists. I thought there might be. I graduated in 1972 in Industrial Management after short stints in Industrial Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Aeronautical (then, later Aerospace). I could never decide. I landed in I.T. and had a second career in photography, all kinds.
As a kid, I used my dad's Practica camera while he used his Pentax K-1000. I didn't really do a lot with it back then, mainly because I was a kid and the cost of developing photos was prohibitive for me.
As an adult, I started taking photos while on vacation. At first, they were just vacation snapshots, but as I got more and more into it, tried to put more and more effort into things like finding unique angles, composition, lighting, etc. I started with a Sony RX100 II, then upgraded to a Nikon D5600, and then to a Canon EOS RP. As I started learning about photography in general and Photoshop in particular, I started becoming more in tune with what shots I might need while out shooting. E.g. I have a couple of photos on here that required multiple shots from different angles people people insisted on plopping themselves right in the middle of my shot.
These are great stories. Thank you all for sharing. Not many participated but the discussion drew a good bit of interest, 243 views so far. I'll leave it open in case others want to add their stories later.
I don't consider myself a photographer, I'm more an artist that uses a camera, at times, as another medium.
My love of art, and creating it, has been with me since I was a very young child. The idea of using a camera came later, when I was about 10 years old. I was getting ready to go on a school trip and was given an old box camera, some film and a bit of instruction. What fun I had! I don't know what happened to the photos I took that day, (all Black and white) but I can still see in my minds eye the few that I loved the most.
I still take the camera out and about ( no not that exact one) and you will find some of my photos in my collections.
@ William - Why close this thread? People will continues to respond and read. It is interesting!
Yep William, there's quite a few techies around these parts. I started working in the engineering field in the early 80s. I did not graduate from Georgia Tech but south of the border at University of North Florida and Florida State College; now I teach engineering, architecture, and IT and computer science.
Photography has changed everyone's lives in way most people don't realize. Like I mentioned before: if it wasn't for photography, there would be no microprocessors.
I just picked it up and ran with it, taught myself, learnt from a lot of mistakes, experimented a lot, tried different genres – and still do. From the early 80's through to today. Started off with a Praktica MTL3, then moved into medium format, then digital from the early 00's, and these days a mixture of both.
For many of those years, I was creating for others - press, weddings, sports, portraiture, etc. About 15 years ago I decided to create the images I wanted to make, which hopefully others would also appreciate enough to purchase. What the future holds, who knows? I've actually been thinking of going back to working for others, perhaps doing property work still/360/etc. Part of that comes from. an increased disillusionment with the art photography market and how it appears to be on a rapid decline. Could just be my perception, but things certainly aren't as good as they were, especially here.
I was a graphic design major in college, but the deeper I got into it, the less enamored I became with the work. I had to take a black and white photo class as a requirement, and as soon as I developed my first roll of film, I was hooked. I had a used Pentax ME Super I bought at a camera store, and began to photograph as much as I could. Initially I started out photographing sports. I worked my way up from working for a local weekly covering high school sports, to the local daily with a circulation of around 4 million people, doing high school and college for them. Then finally, I got a contract with a trading card company photographing pro hockey, football, and baseball. That phase of my career lasted about 10 years, then the industry began to eat itself.
After that I began working for Canon, first as a technical rep for camera stores, and then as Technical Specialist for EOS Professional Products. That gave me the opportunity to learn from a lot of great photographers, as well as travel more, and photograph for myself. Then I moved to a similar position at Lytro. Over time, I began to feel constricted by the corporate world, and eventually the business changed enough that I was laid off anyway. At the time, it was the start of a dark period in my life, but
As I traveled for the sports gig, I started photographing landscapes and cityscapes of the places I traveled to. This eventually grew into what I'm doing now. Now I travel specifically to photograph landscapes, and it's grown into a nice business. I teach workshops, which I find very rewarding as well. As my own boss, it's a lot more fun to do what I love and make my own schedule. I guess I'm not the corporate type.
I moved to Wyoming after college for a job in the early 80's (because I was never there before and I was single). It was so beautiful out there, that I convinced myself, I needed to take photos. So, I bought my first camera and have been shooting for over 40 years. I taught myself (with plenty of mistakes), so I have not taken any formal training. I have loved it ever since and never as much as now.