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just a guy and a camera

My study of photography began when I was 8, give or take.  My parents handed me a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, and off I went.  I was so excited that I wrecked the entire first roll of film - after each picture, I took the back off the camera hoping to see how it turned out.  I was entirely dismayed that the image wasn't showing up immediately!  After that first failure and some gentle corrective instruction from Dad, I was quickly taking pictures of my dog, Midnight, our house and farm, and anything else I liked.  I took so many pictures, my parents had to ration the amount of film I used.

A few years later, my father gave me his old Canonflex SLR 35mm camera for Christmas.  The Canonflex was a good, but quirky, camera.  (It went head to head with the Nikon F and lost.)  It came with a 50mm f/1.8 and an off-brand 200mm telephoto that required screw thread adapter collar to fit the Canonflex.  The 50mm had an auto diaphragm, but the 200 did not.  Both lenses focused very slow.  In fact, the 200mm focus was so slow and stiff it was unusable for action - sometimes it would even come off the camera!  Still, I was thrilled.  The geek in me was obsessed with all the settings on the Canonflex.  I focused more on the technical side of photography during this time than composition and creativity, and my work showed just that.  While I kept many of my pictures from the Kodak Brownie days, I have less than 20 slides from the Canonflex days.

Starting in junior high, I took a several year hiatus from photography as I found a new love, computers.  In my sophomore year I met Mr. Szabo, an avid (and ridiculously talented) photographer whose passion quickly rejuvenated my photographer DNA.  He was my English teacher and football coach, and he was almost as goofy as I was.  He had this crazy idea of raising more than $10,000 (in a town of 525 people) to build a darkroom and start a photography program.  He did it.  I have yet to see the equal of the public school photography program he created.  While my technical skills were strong, my composition and creative vision needed work.  Jim pushed my creative side and helped shape the vision I have today.  Jim was big into Nikon, and he let me use his personal F3HP with motor drive and 300mm f/4 for an assignment or two.  From that point on, I have remained a card carrying member of the Nikon religion.  I have also remained thankful to Jim for more than I care to write here.

Off to college, and my photography came to a halt.  I had no equipment (the last few years I had used either my school's or Jim's equipment), no money, and least of all time!  Five years and a change of majors later, I graduated with my degree in mathematics.  I took the additional classes I needed and also earned my 6-12 teaching certificate.  I ended up landing a teaching job in a small town on the shore of Lake Michigan.  They asked me if I would be willing to take over the school's yearbook program as well.  I did this with some reservation, but I figured it was in my best interest to accept. 

The yearbook program had no useful camera equipment to speak of, and no money to purchase any, so I took out a personal loan from the bank and bought a couple of cameras and lenses for us to use.  I also started to shoot some weddings and senior portraits for the extra cash, not to mention more nature slides than I could afford at the time.  I was thrust firmly back into photography.  I could write whole volumes on my teaching experiences, especially yearbook advising!  Long story short, they forever changed me.

My career has shifted directions several times since, with no regrets save missing the wonderful chaos of a room full of teenagers.  My photography has shifted too.  I am fully digital now, although when I retire I'm buying a 4x5 and going old school.  


This is the 3rd iteration of, and likely the last.  The world has nearly completely moved past websites, much like it has moved past film.  When I leave the digital space, my work will belong to my children and theirs. 



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