Looking back over my photographic journey I can see that I went through several different phases. Here, I’m going to summarize the phases where I’ve been and where I currently am at.
PHASE ONE: Intro to photography…
While some may think this phase might have been a few months or a school semester or two, this phase lasted a lot longer than that. In 1995/1996, my senior year in high school, I took a photography course. I enjoyed it but I sucked. I sucked at photography real bad. I barely knew enough to make a decent exposure, and that was only maybe a few frames per roll of film. If I got a decent exposure I felt lucky. I ended up going to a community college after high school, but not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, I just took classes to get my basics done. I ended up spending 5 years at a community college. About the third year in, I decided to take another photography again. I took another intro to photography class. This time I really started to get a grasp on composition, exposure, and printing in the darkroom. I was having fun and making a lot more decent photographs.
PHASE TWO: Advanced Photography and a little bit of money…
During this phase of photography I really had an understanding of compostion, exposure, and using the golden hour and the early morning to my advantage. During this phase I touched on studio lighting.I took a lighting class that was offered during the summer and it was about 4 weeks long. We had minimal time in the studio. I knew one lighting set up and stuck with it. During this phase I also started getting some paid gigs. While I went to a school that taught fine art photography and not commercial photography, I had no idea about the business aspects of it all. I’d go on to make enough money to cover the costs of film, processing, and a little extra for gas.
PHASE THREE: The digital revolution, or was it?
I graduated college in May of 2001. Sometime in 2002 I decided I needed to go digital. I bought my first Canon 6.1mp DSLR that I took a small business loan out for. Digital was a different beast. I was used to getting acceptable, good, and great images from a film negative. With digital I ended up getting frustrated time and time again. My photos sucked… again!
PHASE FOUR: Can I flash you? A breath of fresh air! Getting mo gigs and mo money at this thing!
While working at Starbucks this random dude came in wearing a shirt that said “Can I flash you?” I struck up a conversation with this dude and he ended up being a photographer too. As a matter of fact, he turned out to be a darn good photographer. Zack Arias and I met up a couple times to talk photography. He ripped my college portfolio to shreds. But he inspired me to be better. He ended up moving to Atlanta and we kept in touch for a while. He encouraged me to get into flash photography, and even use flash outside. After learning flash and learning it well, I felt like I was a brand new photographer… On. A. Whole. New. Level.
PHASE FIVE: Put it down! Pick it up!
Early 2012… burn out sets in. Photography has become a beating. I’m tired of it all. I’m tired of the business. I’m bored and uninterested. Family problems and more. I give up my studio lease, sell all my studio equipment, and quit…
About 6 months pass and I get the itch to start scratching at photography again. All I have is a Canon Elan 7e and a Bronica ETRS. Both are film cameras my dad had given me. I bought some film, shot it, and fell back in love all over again. I went on to developing my own film again by using the caffenol process, as well as the traditional black and white process.
PHASE SIX: Bodies of work!
This is where I am currenly. I’m tired of merely looking at images on computer screens, laptop screens, and on cell phones. I want something tangible. I want something I can hold. I like getting a wiff of the combination of paper and ink. I love feeling like I actually created something. I love feeling like I actually created something other than a combination of 1’s and 0’s that flash on and off of stuff that will eventually stop working. Currently, I am enjoying where I am. I’m enjoying making prints, zines, magazines, and books. I have a feeling I’ll be here for quite some time. And I’m looking forward to my next project, and the project after that, and the project after that.
I have no idea what the next phase is… but once I figure it out, I’ll let you know!
Pick up a brand new camera, pick up a 6.1mp camera, pick up a film camera, or pick up a cell phone and shoot. Enjoy where you are at but don’t stay there. Don’t settle. Keep growing. Keep changing. Keep creating your magic and share it with the world.