Friday, October 2, 2009

Full Circle

The only real question is where did the circle start?

I got my first camera when I was 11 years old and at that age had a fairly thick portfolio of pencil-sketched portraits. I had a 'good eye', and without knowing much of anything technically about composition, etc., my snapshots looked a lot better than my mother's or any of her friends pictures.

I remember the thrill of going to pick up the processed prints, after waiting a full week for them to be developed and printed. Standing in the store looking at the prints, too impatient to go back out to the car.

I continued to be passionate about photography and art throughout high school, taking the requisite art classes, and always doing well in these. It was never a consideration or even a thought that I would pursue this beyond what it was - a hobby - 'because you can't make money being an artist'. My dad really wanted a doctor in the family and he lobbied pretty hard for that. In the end, I decided on a degree set more aligned to engineering.

I began working in photography while in college. I worked for two newspapers and did wedding photography. I loved the newspaper work. It was creative and the lines were often blurry. I covered police blotter type stuff, accidents, arrests, and I covered the interest articles, like featherweight boxing champion in town for training, or the state fair, or local high school holding a Plymouth Rock re-enactment. I was paid by the photo printed in the paper -- not how many photos I took -- and I had no editorial input. So what I learned - in order to maximize my income - was that I had to make several shots for the same event be so compelling and different enough that the editor would want to print them all.

As for the wedding photography business, I had a lot of customers, but made no money at it. In the old days of film I over shot and over proofed every wedding, because I was so paranoid about messing up something that could not be re-captured. All hail the digital revolution!

I took art classes and photography classes all through college and I rarely went anywhere without my camera in tow. I entered photo competitions, at the local and state level, won a few and placed in many, and I continued working at the newspapers until I graduated.

Then I got a 'real job'.

Now to condense a period of time, so as not to bore anyone... real job, moved away, still took photos, camera always nearby, not as much time for drawing...had kids, took even more photos, mostly of the kids, did a bit of drawing, but still working at 'real job', still in love with photography, invest in awesome digital camera, buy Photoshop and a Wacom, no time to fully learn either, dabble in Photoshop, brightness, constrast, curves, then learned layers, textures, and still working really hard at real job... fast forward to June 1, 2009...became essentially unemployed, and then...

I focused on what I love to do - painting and photography. As an added bonus, I have been able to establish a presence for my work online and walk that avenue of connection with other people, and share with them. So what was a less than positive event (being released) turned out to be the catalyst for an idyllic summer, and the start of something that I will not allow to be forgotten or turned off, even as I start back to my 'real job' next week.

BTW - the takeaway from this post shouldn't be one of regret for not pursuing a different career path. Because I don't. I am immensely lucky in that I have the opportunity to do things I love at least some of the time and I have a 'real' job that allows me to be creative, albeit in different ways, every day.

The picture above is the first photo I ever took - classic, right?

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