Monday, February 22, 2016

I'm a Serious, Enthusiastic, Amateur Photographer

Photographer and cameras
This is a pic of Jordan when we were at the Cherry Blossom Festival a couple of years ago. He taught me everything I know about photography. I would call myself a serious, enthusiastic, amateur photographer. But, Jordan? He's an artist. He's modest, so he won't like that I wrote that. Jordan studied photography in college. He has a BFA in photography. 

But, as so often happens, life happened and he had a wife (me) that wanted a baby (Danielle) and breaking into the photography business seemed to risky. And you know what? I think he's glad that he did his photography on the side. Though when you work full time and have a wife and baby... "on the side" means once or twice a year.

When he and I met (and fell in love, almost immediately) he was using 35mm film. Film! I'm not sure anyone really knows what that is anymore. Film is cool. But for me, digital is more accessible in so many ways.

When I was young I wanted to photograph things. One of my most memorable Christmas gifts was a Swinger camera. It was not a toy! And because it was a Polaroid, there was the instant gratification of seeing your product. I don't know what happened to my original Swinger. What with growing up, moving away, Dad selling the house...who knows?
Camera from the 1970s
My Gift to Me
But the camera was such an important part of how I saw myself that I purchased one from Etsy. I have it in a place I see every day and seeing it makes me happy. Even though this camera is a replacement, I do still have some of the photos I took with my original camera.  

When I was in high school I signed up for an elective class in photography.  We were still using film...which meant that part of the class was learning how to process film in a dark room. 

Here's what I learned about myself in that class: I learned that I do not have the precision it takes to work with film and darkroom techniques. 

This is actually a valuable lesson for me. I'll never be an Ansel Adams, but the world doesn't need another Mr. Adams. His work is one of a kind and should be appreciated as such.

That lesson also taught me that I don't enjoy the darkroom process. Words like "dodging" and "burning" get thrown around. Basically, you are trying and trying to improve the image. Yet I usually botched the entire job so I had to start over. It's just not something I'm good at. Could I get good at it? I don't think so. I don't have the patience. I don't LOVE it enough. 

But what I DO love is working with photos. I do love the stories that they can tell. I love being around photographers. I'm sort of a muse. 

As luck would have it, I was offered a position working on my college yearbook. I learned lots of lessons there too. One of the photographers on the Media Hall was Jordan. In fact, what triggered our relationship was the fact that I needed his help. He was the photo editor of the college paper. My editor and I were working late into the night for a publisher deadline the next morning. The publisher reps were literally going to show up the next morning and we had to deliver a set of "signatures".  This is basically the layout of each page of the book.

As the yearbook team (four people, including me) were physically putting this thing together, it became obvious that we had more pages than photos. Most people expect photos in their yearbooks. We were required to pre-sell the books. People pre-purchased based on their belief that we would deliver a yearbook, not unlike the yearbooks they had seen before. Just writing this is making my heart beat a little faster. 

So, luckily for me, Jordan happened to be at the student center that night. It became my job to actually ask him to share photos that his team of photographers had taken for the paper. Basically, "please share for free" and I have nothing to offer in return. It was sort of a big ask.

Here's the thing, Jordan and I had never really talked before. I may have had a crush on him from afar...but we didn't know each other (not really). In the process of negotiating for this trade (or gift), I sort of fell in love with him.  Okay, I actually fell in love with him.

More to come.


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