And The Rest, As They Say, Is History
I can remember when my older sister was taking photography classes in high school. She had a nice camera and I would always ask to borrow it when I went on trips. Having no real idea how to work it, I happily snapped away at the usually touristy scenes and images. But the excitment of capturing the moment diminished drastically when one needed to deliver the film to have it developed, wait a week, and then browse images. Some of which I had completely forgotten. Things got a little better with the pocket sized digital cameras, of which I had a few. Interesting side note, almost all of my small point and shoot cameras were accidentally destroyed by my wife (girlfriend at the time). One even got run over!
It wasn't until my marriage that I got my hands on my first dslr camera, a Nikon D3000. It was a wedding gift from my mother. Like most people new to a dslr, I was intimidated by all the buttons and settings - most of which I had no idea what they did. I put the camera in 'auto' mode and once again happily snapped away. The mere fact that I could see, edit, and print pictures almost immediately kept me interested. One of my very first pictures I took was this squirrel while visiting Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was simply amazed at the picture when viewed on a computer screen.
For the next several years I took pictures of anything and everything that I found interesting. Then a Facebook ad changed everything. While checking out my personal Facebook page, an advertisement for creative photography popped on my screen. I watched the ad - several times in fact. I saved the link to the ad and thought it over for about a week. I'm typically not one to be suckered in by unsolicited internet ads but this one peaked my interest. Expecting to be scammed, I purchased the book and started watching the related videos. Then while on a camping trip late at night, I took my camera out of 'auto' mode and started to put it in other modes as the videos illustrated. On accident, I captured a photo showing the spinning of the earth relative to the night sky. I later learned that I had taken what is called a star trails photo, albeit a relatively short one. I was amazed at how the clouds smeared across the night sky. I was genuinely surprised I had captured a picture at all given the pure blackness of the sky to my eye at the time. From that moment on, I was addicted. I began researching astrophotography in general, and star trails in particular. I purchased a telescope and equipment to attach my camera to it. I also started copying the photographic effects from the advertisement. For many years, my photography was all about the night sky and special effects including pictures of the moon, planets, light painting, lightening strikes, and occasionally, the sun. To date, my crowning astrophotography moment was capturing the shadow of Venus transitioning in front of the sun. An event that will never happen again in my lifetime.
Then a dear friend at work scared me to death when she asked me to take pictures of her wedding! What? Me? Was the wedding at night? The scariest part was that my friend, was herself, an accomplished photographer. Not wanting to ruin her special day and feeling completely inadequate at taking pictures of anything during the day with any measure of proficiency, I declined. The wedding came and went and she got some awesome pictures from a 'real' photographer. But it bothered me. A lot. Why was I so scared to photograph people? And believe me, I was! I started researching portrait photography and got a modest set of stands and umbrellas. Finally, I asked another good friend if I could use her for some portrait experimentation. She agreed! Although completely out of my element, I had a blast. I continued to research portrait photography while at the same time wanting to bring in the special effects from my other photography. She helped me out once again and the results were amazing!
The natural progression led to researching creative and unique portraiture. I found yet another friend willing to indulge my crazy ideas almost without question. Regardless of how crazy my ideas were, she was (and still is) down for whatever I could find! I would search for the craziest ideas that I thought we could emulate. I have an ever-growing list of unique ideas I am anxious to try and she is still my go-to model for my most outlandish ideas. You will see her reflected in a lot of my work.
From then on, I bothered friends and family to perfect and sharpen my portraiture skills. It wasn't long after that I started doing paid professional shoots for all kinds of occasions, My passion is still astrophotography and special effects but I love a friendly face in front of my lens as well. While 'normal' portrait photography can be fun and creative, the combination of special effects and portraiture intrigues me the most. I also love doing photography series based on themes and I have several ideas brewing for future shoots. Now if I can only get my friend to renew her vows, I would gladly be her photographer.
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