My father is an incredible photographer. I remember being very young, smelling the chemicals from his improvised dark room – a staple of just about every weekend in my house. He has an unimpressive Pentax (maybe Nikon) SLR from the 60’s that he used to capture some vibrant and sobering imagery from the Vietnam War, particularly of children playing or talking to soldiers.
I grew up with this level as the standard of photography and I can’t remember not having a camera of my own. Unfortunately, for years I was never able to get the same level of detail or focus in my photos. I was given an endless array of basic film cameras that (at first) had no focus at all or handled everything automatically. And these were film cameras, meaning that every photo cost money and was taken with a large dose of mystery. I remember sitting underneath a race track trying to get a single photo of a Hot Wheels car flying through the air… I never saw that picture, which likely means that by the time I got the film developed, I was stuck with a couple of ceiling shots that made no sense.
I met several photographers in college. They had similar cameras to my father and spent endless hours taking photo after photo, nervous that the exact shot they need wasn’t going to make it to film. As an outgoing dynamic performer, I was the subject of many long and tedious shoots – solidifying my concession that I would never be a male model (yes, that was my decision and I’m sticking to it!)
Near the end of my college career, I took an Adobe Photoshop class. I had already used Photoshop a million times, but on a very shallow level. The professor had taught photography for over a decade and completely quit film in the early 2000’s, much to her peer’s dismay.
“A revolution is coming,” she told us, “The revolution of digital.”
I marveled at the power of Photoshop and I believed her that digital was the future, although my photography friends argued otherwise.
Eventually, I was given a digital SLR from my wife. It’s the greatest camera I’ve ever had – and I’ve always had a camera. Finally I was able to take the photos that I saw in my head. I can review the pictures instantly and still have advanced control over my scene – although I’m still (after years) fuzzy on all of the functionality. Truth be told, if I could take the class at iD, I would!
I can experiment in ways I never could with film and bring my pictures to a new place using tools like Photoshop. In general, though, I don’t even need to get that far – I have the ability to take stunning memories and capture them the way I remember (like a pensive!)
I don’t think it’s likely that I will ever out-photograph my father, but because I am committed to documenting my world, my family and friends will remember the world from my point of view – and I will be able to share that point of view exactly as I want.