I started taking photographs when I was 12. My father was a newspaper reporter raised in the old school of fully manual film cameras where they would often give the reporter something like a Pentax K1000, a flash unit, and rolls of film and little to no training on how to actually use the camera and cut them loose on the world. My dad taught me to "chase the needle", referring to the light meter in the viewfinder, to get proper exposures on his camera and I was hooked from that moment on.
Little did I know what dad DIDN'T teach me. Things like what the camera does to get that proper exposure. I didn't learn about ISO, Aperture, F-stops, Shutter speeds, etc. until MUCH later. After those early days I went on to join my high school yearbook staff as a photographer and page layout guy. I learned a lot, became the head photographer during my 4 years on the staff and made a lot of decent, if decidedly snapshot quality images.
Then I had some downtime thanks to not having a job, or a camera for a year after high school. I looked for work and finally ended up joining the U.S. Navy as a Fire Controlman. Things went well and I even picked myself up a used SLR and started taking pictures again. This is where I started to finally LEARN. I tinkered and played with the camera dials and settings and began, through the process of trial and error (mostly error), to learn and understand what the various settings did. But I had a long way to go still.
Enter the digital age of photography. After the Navy, I ended up in Asheville, NC working at Radio Shack. One day we got this new product in. An RCA 1.2 megapixel point and shoot digital camera that cost upwards of $400. I just HAD to have this camera! I saved up and got one and the shutterbug was unleashed in me once again. I was amazed at what this thing could do. I would do crazy things at the store demoing the camera like turn on the timer and spin the camera by the wrist strap to show people how accurate the images were even when moving. The darn thing would freeze the cameras motion even when spinning in a circle like a top! To me, me this was truly amazing.
Over the next few years I had a few different, low quality, point and shoot cameras which produced adequate pictures but I really wasn't happy with them. I ended up buying a couple of old Canon SLR's again and shooting film for a while until Christmas 2009.
This was when my true awakening to the wonderful world of digital imaging occurred. I had asked my father for a new camera that year and he surprised me by buying me a Canon Rebel XS (1000D for those of you not in the U.S.), and a 70-300MM zoom lens to complement the 18-55mm kit lens. I was hooked once more. No more film. I could instantly see the images I captured mere seconds after taking them. And best of all it came with software that I could use to not only view but edit and correct them!
I was finally able to begin to learn photography as a whole. I have been voraciously studying any resource on the internet about digital photography and how to improve my skills as a photographer since that fateful day. Today I have realized I have hit another of those milestones.
I was asked to take some pictures of my partners theater company during rehearsals and my trusty XS let me down. It just couldn't handle the lighting conditions of the theater very well and I found myself actually embarrassed by the images I was producing. This was a first for me. Up to that point, I was merrily snapping pictures and didn't really get too critical of those images. This was different. I was expected to produce quality images for the company and I felt I wasn't delivering. Never mind that everyone loved what I was doing and how they turned out. I didn't think I was delivering what I was really capable of making. This began to make me think.
Enter my most recent camera. If you read this blog you know I recently purchased a Canon EOS M kit. This camera has the capabilities to make the images I couldn't on my XS due to it's limitations. And I have experienced another growth in my skills as a photographer as a result. I have found that I had outgrown the XS and with the new hardware new horizons opened up to me that I have been immensely enjoying exploring.
As I learn more and more I discover that you never truly master photography. You evolve and adapt as things improve and change. There is always some new aspect to learn, Some new experiment. Something different and exciting to explore. This is why I do this. This is my passion.