I was nine years old when my uncle first handed me a camera and told me to go and take pictures of anything I wanted. He said it was for a class he was taking in college. I remember heading into the woods in our back yard and feeling empowered by the magical device in my hands.
Years later, I received my first camera from a friend for Christmas. It was the venerable Canon AE-1. I was enamored with this incredible camera. I immediately began studying up on how all the buttons and switches worked and the basics of exposure. I would spend countless hours taking pictures and trying all the different settings that the camera had to offer.
In the early 80’s I was off to college and began taking photography classes as soon as I could. That was when I first witnessed the magic of the image appearing before my eyes in the darkroom. I was hooked! I immersed myself in any and all information I could find related to black and white photography. I subscribed to every photography magazine available at the time. I studied the masters and Ansel Adams was undoubtedly my first and biggest inspiration. I studied his Zone System and practiced his darkroom techniques to the point of exhaustion. I graduated from Hiram College with a Business major and a minor in Art (Photography).
After college, I acquired a Beseler enlarger and darkroom sink. My dad and I built a darkroom in the basement and I was off to the races. I was interested in infrared black and white back in college but could not book enough darkroom time to realistically pursue it. Now I was free to explore! And explore I did. I shot primarily infrared black and white film for several years perfecting the look that I wanted.
As digital photography came into maturity, I knew that it would undoubtedly compete and probably surpass anything that film had to offer. Unfortunately, Kodak knew that too and they stopped producing the magical infrared film that I relied on for so many years. I switched to digital in 2006 and retooled my workflow to accommodate the new technology.
Once I moved to digital I found myself delving into color more and more and It wasn’t long before I was shooting in color as much as I was black and white.
Now, over 44 years after I first held a camera, I still find the photographic experience just as magical as I did that day back in 1970.