I didn’t grown up wanting to be a photographer- I didn’t have an “ah ha” moment when a relative gave me my first camera. Our family always had cameras around, small automatic film cameras that didn’t have any manual functions, like our beloved 110. I enjoyed taking pictures of my friends and family doing silly things or on vacations but it never occurred to me that it could be a career.
I was always interested in art growing up- any form of art which allowed me to work with my hands inspired me. It was my Dad’s side of the family that was artistic, sculptors, jewelers, and interior designers. My Mom would say she didn’t have an artistic bone in her body and could barely draw a straight line. However, she recognized that I had talent and creativity.
My mother found some classic oil painting lessons for kids and figured that was a good way to start to engage me beyond drawing with colored pencils on the floor of my bedroom. I loved it. Stuffed in the back room of an art supply store with the smell of paint surrounding me and three other ten-year-old girls we painted mountains and ocean landscapes from greeting cards of places we had never seen before.
I had no idea what I was doing but I felt that I was an artist.
After graduating from high school I really didn’t know how I could become a professional artist. Sure I took a few art classes in high school and did well buthow do you make a living out of painting dots (Pointillsim). I convinced my parents that going to college right after high school wasn’t the best idea since I didn’thave a clueabout what I wanted to study. I thought I should take a year to explore my creativity and go to art school in Italy and see if being a professional artist was really for me. Nice plan for an 18 year-old right?
Luckily, they believed in my plan and off I went to Florence, Italy. Inspired by art everywhere and able to explore a variety of different mediums I was in heaven. But, I still wasn’t convinced I had the passion for one particular medium- I was ok at drawing, sculpture was fun but I didn’t have the patience for drying times and jewelry was expensive. I continued to create but worried I wouldn’t have an answer to what kind of artist I was going to be at the end of my year.
One day after returning home from dinner my roommate was busy hanging her black and white photos on the wall of our room that she had developed that day. I was mesmerized by the pictures. They were incredible; she captured details of Florence that I was overlooking everyday. When I discovered she actually processed the film and printed them herself I knew I had to get a camera.
I asked around and found a small camera shop that had used cameras. Not really brand savvy yet, I found a small little Canon AE-1, that was just right. I quickly purchased it and a few rolls of film. Off I went knowing nothing about exposure but hoping I could implement when I did know about art and capture a bit of it with my camera.
Like many of us who have taken the #fivedayblackandwhite challenge we have been inspired to dig through our archives. I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled on some of my first images I ever took(1986). It has been a wonderful reflective process that has reminded me of how I have developed as a photographer.