My photographic journey

brownie

I tend not to read long dissertations on the philosophy of photography or the importance of developing a photographic style. I like to think I enjoy photographing anything with few exceptions. I grew up liking anything mechanical and had aspirations to be a garbage man because I thought garbage trucks were very cool. I was enthralled with airplanes, trains and cars. Not too different than many other young boys. My first photographs were taken with a Kodak 127 Brownie of some sort or another. I was fascinated with some Asian styled concrete lanterns in our local park. They were standing in a pool filled with water lilies and surrounded with large ferns. I think I shot at least two rolls of film from different angles. I don’t really recall any specific shots. When the film was developed at the local drug store I couldn’t wait to see the glossy deckle edge black and white masterpieces. I was proud of the photographs. The concrete structures looked like they were emerging through the canopy of a tropical rain forest. I was king of the hill…until my mother asked to see the photographs. I was admonished for wasting film. There were no people to be seen anywhere. Film should not be wasted on photographs without people in them! I was allowed to draw all I wanted to. I was pretty accomplished with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. It may run in the family – my late sister was very artistic. Other than art in public schools I never pursued it. I do recall that all of my notebooks were liberally decorated with sketches and doodles. I did keep up with photography in an undercover manner. I bought my own film and paid for processing with money saved up from birthdays and Christmas. It was supposed to go into my “college fund”. The volume of my work was small. Close to nonexistent. I experimented with filters using various colors of cellophane. I even took some “telephoto” images with my father’s 7×50 binoculars. This went on for years using a variety of cameras. Usually variations of Kodak Brownies. When I enlisted in the Air Force I purchased my first “real camera”, a Yashica fixed lens rangefinder. I eventually bought my first SLR, a Minolta SRT-101. Beside the 50mm lens that came with the camera I purchased two Vivitar T4 lenses, 28mm and 200mm. I also started developing my film and making prints. Eventually I migrated to medium format. First a Kowa Six then a Mamiya RB67. I also begin to dabble in large format with a 4×5 camera. I begin work at a small studio doing portraits, publicity photos, photography for private investigators and weddings. After a while I was getting burned out with studio work and sold the RB67 to the studio. After a brief stint with a Spotmatic II, I started buying Nikon gear. I also sold my 4×5 camera and enlarger. I had settled back into the 35mm world. The Nikon cameras and lenses serve me well for over 20 years. I still use them occasionally. The journey to digital began with a Minolta DiMage 7. It was a good camera with an insatiable appetite for batteries. I purchased my Canon 10D three years later. After a bit I had the inclination to shoot film again. This time with the excellent Cosina made Voigtländer RF cameras. In six more years I had Panasonic GF1. I was hooked on the u4/3 system. I bought the Panasonic GH3 a few years later and thought this is the last camera I will ever need. Eventually it was time to sell my unused Canon gear. To get an idea what it was worth I boxed it all up and headed to a local camera store. I was thinking I would be lucky to get five or six hundred dollars. I was pleasantly surprised to be offered enough to order a Panasonic GX7 and still have over one hundred dollars in my pocket. That is how I arrived at my present location of my photographic journey. And just where am I now? In my mind I am back to where I began the odyssey. All of the cameras I have used have not changed what I see. The cameras I now use are very comfortable and have a natural feel to them. My photographic skills have improved over the years due to the sheer number of photographs taken. The subjects of my photographs are not far removed from the things I photographed as a youngster. I am still attracted to the isolated abstract elements in my subjects. I feel a deep satisfaction when I can capture the play of light on reflective surfaces. I do photograph people and have dabbled in street photography – not “the stiff in the center of the frame, Ok Jim and Sally trade places and let me take one more” photographs. Sorry mom it just doesn’t work for me.

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