My first inspiration came from my own family. Both my grandfather and my father were photographers at different times in their lives. I started taking pictures with a hand me down Olympus trip half frame 35 mm. My grandfather later gave me a Kodak Retina IIc with Schneider Kruznach lenses. I took some great photos with that incredible camera. I saved up to buy a Canon T70 with a couple of lenses for more versatility and then I earned my first job as a freelance photographer for the local paper covering sports events. In university I switched to Nikon and began shooting weddings and parties while shooting freelance for newspapers and magazines. National Geographic magazine was a source of great inspiration for many years.
My first experience in a darkroom happened when my grandparents brought some family heirloom glass negatives to our house in Texas. My grandfather, father and I worked late in the night cleaning mildew and fungus from the negatives and printing from them. Many were 8x10 so printing was actually pretty easy once the exposure times were determined. I fell in love! In my twenties I worked in a custom lab making large custom black and white prints and of course working on color print and E6 developing. When I transferred to the University of South Florida I was hired originally as a staff photographer and later became the Photo Editor. I managed our small staff of photographers and our black and white darkroom. I was one of the first, if not the first to successfully push TMAX 3200 to ISO 27000 and print very usable 5x7 prints.
Sadly I left professional photography and journalism to make more money working in the IT career field. I have spent the last 25 years working in the high paying, but emotionally unfulfilling IT field. Photography has been largely a hobby during that time.
I'm what you probably call an old school photographer. I have very little skill with Photoshop and prefer to capture the image in camera, rather than fix it in post.
Over the last three years I have had 3 major spine surgeries, the most recent on June 27, 2017. I am still recovering and hoping to regain a life of some normal activity. During this time I have been re-evaluating my priorities and desires. I want to return to photography, in some capacity at least.
I love nature, landscape and black and white photography. I keep toying with the idea of scrapping digital and pick up a Mamiya RZ67. I'd love to hear your take!
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- Suwanee, Georgia, United States of America
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