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Thread: How did YOU get started in photography?

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  1. #1

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    So, how did the photo bug bite you?

    I have three obsessions, music, astronomy, and photography. None of the three were around the house when I was a kid. My parents had a Brownie 620 camera (which I now have). Someone gave them an Olympus Trip 35 somewhere in the late 60’s, but no one used it much. Exposing a frame of film was reserved for special occasions (Christmas morning, that sort of thing). I got my first “real” camera, an OM-1n, in college.

    The idea that you could expose film to light and make a picture fascinated me. I always wanted to do it. Once I had the means, I began to acquire an education, but it was the self-taught variety. But that, as they say, is another story.

    To answer my own question, then, I’ve always wanted to take pictures, ever since I knew what it was. There was never really any decision to be made.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Posts
    443

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    When I was 19 I went to Cancun with my sister at March Break. I bought a cheap 35mm from Radio Shack for $25 with a roll of film included. Of the rolls and rolls of pictures that I took there was a really good seascape taken at Tulum. I had an 11X14 made for a friend and I was hooked. I saved my pennies and bought a Pentax P3 and a couple of lenses and a couple of hundred rolls of film later I was buying a Yashicamat. I still use that as my point and shoot and now I have a CC400. I am still hooked on seascapes which I can take any time I want. I have 3 waiting to be printed for my rec room once it is renovated. All that is left is the flooring which goes down this weekend.

  3. #3

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    Snicker . . . good question! The answer call for a story, so fill your coffee cup and put yer feet up.....

    The first camera I owned was a Polaroid, back about 1963. The family had a little box camera, Kodak I think, that had a lens the size of a dime and sure didn’t do justice to the format. But we were poor and pictures were only for “special occasions”. When I started working part time (where I actually got PAID!, as opposed to working around the farm) I bought the Polaroid. “Instant” pictures waz kind’a neat and quite a novelty.

    In 1969, I packed off to college in the wilderness of northeastern Ontario, a little city in the middle of the boreal forest that had been a gold rush town in the 1930s. As a suitable hobby for a cash-starved student, I started doing wilderness trips on the weekends to photograph some of the old gold mines. Some of these were easy to access; others were MANY miles back in the trackless bush (where there was not another road between you and the North Pole if you went in the wrong direction!)

    I visited one remote mine site that was a goodly number of miles into the bush - a VERY hard trek, one that was actually scary at times! - and pulled out my Polaroid and a new film pack to photograph the mine site. The first frame came out BLACK! So did the next frame, so did all the rest. So did the next pack! I couldn't find anything wrong with the camera, nothing to indicate why all my pictures were black. (Any smart remarks about “lens cap” and I’ll smack ya! It didn’t have one of those.) So here I was, 5 miles from the nearest road thru dense bush, a good 10 miles from habitation, with a camera that didn’t work! GURRRRRRRRRRRRR

    I walked back into town, to the photography store, tossed the Polaroid on the counter, and said, “Show me what you’ve got in 35 mm!” I walked out with a Zeiss Icarex (sp?), an electronic flash, and my pockets bulging with 35mm film. I joined the college’s camera club to have access to the darkroom, got conscripted to shoot for the college newspaper, and have been shooting ever since. I enjoyed darkroom work and every house I have lived in since 1969 has had a darkroom. About 20 years ago, I moved up to medium format with the first Pentax 645 to come into Canada and I also started doing at-home E-6 then.

    Recently I began to move to large format. I have purchased a couple of lenses (from E-Bay), a few 4x5 film holders, and have the plans to build a camera. The Cherry wood has arrived so I will soon be making sawdust and learning how to fold a bellows ;-)

    Photography is a hobby I have drifted into and out of for 40 years now, but it never goes away. In the early days I seemed to do good as a “press photographer”, getting those candid shots for the school paper that didn’t do much for my friendships ;-) but with medium format, I got really hooked on the beauty of bright, clear, sharp, and intensely colorful images; the way a good camera and film can snatch a moment in time, make it even more vivid than you remember, and freeze it in time for all to see.

    P.S. I still have the poor old Zeiss! It has seen many thousands of miles, but it still works :-)

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Location
    Mobile, AL
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    361

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    This is a two part answer. At about 13 my best friend got a Sears b+w film developing kit for Christmas. We mixed up the chemicals went into the the bathroom hung blankets over the window and door to darken it. We then took a roll of film from his parents shot on vacation in San Juan out of the brownie. We unroll it and proceeded to "try" to load the film on the reel. We fought and fought that roll for a least an hour in the dark. We knew when we unrolled the film spool there were two things, film and a paper backing. We decided to put what fell to the floor in the clothes hamper covered with towels and turn on the light. We had to find out what we had been fighting with, film or paper backing. The worse that could happen was that we would burn up the film when the light came on. I turned on the light switch and low and behold we had been trying to load the paper backing. Off went the lights and that roll of film went on that reel in no time flat. We then closed the tank and developed the film. After drying we made a contact print of one of the negatives. When the image poped up on that little piece of paper we both said "WOW". That was the greatest thing I had ever seen. I still get that feeling everytime a print. The second part came about 7 years later and Vice President Spiro Agnew came to town. I had never seen anyone that high in office and want to take some pictures. My brother had just returned from the Navy and had 35mm minolta and he gave me a 30 minute lesson on how to operate the camera. I took off the take my pictures and had the secret servicemen following me all aroung the auditorium where the vice president was speaking. When the speech was over the vice president made his way into the crowd and stopped and shook my hand. I returned the camera to my brother, had the film developed and then bought my own 35mm. I've progressed quite a bit over the last 35 years when I think over my first photos, a Vice President. I laugh about them now because at that time I though they were really something.

  5. #5
    MIke Sherck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Elkhart, IN
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    1,242

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    When I was a kid I had a Kodak Instamatic -- 126 format film cartridges and flashcubes! I used to take my models of astronauts and their lunar lander out to the blacktop driveway and set them up next to the oil stains. On 126 film they looked a lot like photos from the moon's surface (taken from a *long* way away!) That was it for many years; anything more complex than the Instamatic or a disc camera was too intimidating. No one ever managed to explain "f-stop" or other, similar, photographic terminology in a way I understood, so I just figured it was some mysterious rocket science I was too dumb to comprehend.

    When I was in my mid-30s my older daughter expressed an interest in photography and we bought a used Minolta XG-1 with 50mm lens and instruction booklet from a local camera store. I read the instructions and even now clearly remember the eureka moment, when everything fell into place all at once. I ended up using the Minolta almost as much as my daughter did, shooting color snapshots and taking them to the corner drugstore for processing.

    A few years later I was laid off of work and on a whim one day went to an estate auction. I ended up buying an unused Minolta SRT-101 35mm camera with the excellent Minolta 58mm f/1.2 lens for almost nothing. At almost the same time a new camera store, a mom and pop place, opened up within walking distance of the house where we were living. Ron and Helen encouraged a latent interest in black and white and it seemed they always had time to sit and talk to me even though their business kept them very busy: I don't know whether they sold much equipment or not but they were widely known as doing the best processing and printing around. When they retired all of the local pros began mailing their film to distant labs: you still can't get that level of processing locally.

    Later I found a complete beginner's darkroom at a garage sale: $25 and I had a wooden crate with enlarger, trays, timer, graduates: the whole kit. I converted a corner of the garage into a makeshift darkroom (it's amazing what you can do with aluminum foil!) and haven't been without one since. I've gone through medium format into 4x5 now and, although my darkroom isn't much bigger than the corner of that old garage, it has running water and I don't ruin film or prints whenever someone pulls into the driveway!

    I believe that although I've had an interest in photographs (particlarly black and white) since I was a kid, I never would have done anything about making my own if I hadn't known Ron and Helen and had the advantage of their advice and encouragement. They had a knack for making complexities clear and were extraordinarily generous with their time (and occasionally with manufacturer's samples.) My only real regret is that I didn't encounter them or people like them many years earlier.

    Mike
    Politically, aerodynamically, and fashionably incorrect.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    9,477

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    Canon AE-1

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    57

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    I started as a 13 year old working for my photographer uncle in the summers. I sat in the dark loading holders and developing 8x10 sheetfilm. By the time I went off to college I knew that I was going to be a photographer. When I graduated I worked as an assistant, a color printer in a color lab and a catalog photographer. I decided at that time (about 20 years ago) I didn't want to do this any longer. I changed careers and shoot for myself. I've had a darkroom since 1976. I love all formats except disc and APS

  8. #8
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    2,283

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    My Dad has always been a photographer. He used to use a Nikon S rangefinder (he still has it), and he taught me how to take photographs with it. I started out with Tri-X and Plus-X, and I used to expose it using the charts that Kodak had in their film boxes (you know, the ones with the line drawing of a sunny, partly cloudy, cloudy day, etc.). My sisters and I always asked our Dad to show us his slides, especially the ones that he took when he was a Marine in Japan and Korea: Great landscapes, portraits of elderly farmers with deeply lined faces, other Marines, little kids, we loved watching them. He always had a camera with him, and I guess it rubbed off on me, even if it did not on my two sisters.

    My uncle bought me a Konica Auto S2 fixed lens rangefinder when I was in junior high school - a great camera with a nice 45mm lens (I still have it) - and I was really hooked. My Dad taught me to develop film using Diafine, and the first time I saw my hand developed negatives I went crazy. (I still love it!) We built a darkroom in our basement, saved our money, and bought a Meopta Opemus III enlarger from Altman's in Chicago. (Anyone remember that place?) That enlarger served me well for many, many years, until I obtained my current Saunders. A few years after I got the Konica, I bought a Canon FTb, which I still use, along with my Dad's old mechanical Canon F1. (It seems that by the time I get around to buying an autofocus SLR, they will all be digital!)

    Photography has always been a great family thing for me. My Dad and I share a passion for it. I met my wife through photography (she is an awesome photographer), and her Dad is also a passionate (and outstanding)photographer.

    I must admit, however, that none of my family understands my fascination with this large format thing. I just tell them it is their loss. (And I think that they are secretly jealous of my big negatives!)

  9. #9

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    My obsession started with my fathers Argus C3 when I was about 8 and made the progression from 35mm to med format to large format.
    Ron LaMarsh

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    God's Country
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    2,077

    How did YOU get started in photography?

    Kevin,

    Great question... but where does one start? In my case, I think my first camera was a Polaroid (the white one). I used this one for snapping pictures of my sibblings.

    Next came the Kodak Instamatic 126...carried it around more than I shot with it. This was the "artistic phase" and I shot "close-ups" of a variety of objects and peole.

    My first real camera was the Pentax Spotmatic F... I used this to shoot for the school newspaper. This was when I started learning about pushing film to 6400 ASA to shoot hockey in a relatively dark arena. I also developed my own films by this time and developing Tri-X to 6400 ASA took a lot of time.

    I then bought a Nikon F2 and shot with it for a few years until the F3 was released. By this time, I was in university and started shooting with a friend who was a photojournalist at a newspaper. We use to shoot every weekend and as much as possible during the week. Over the years, as our friendship grew, we both bought Leica R3s, M6s, and a 500CM Hasselblad. Of course, this was followed by a full complement of lenses and other miscellaneous gear.

    We took our first trip out to Vancouver, BC to shoot a "self-assigned" project... the Granville Island Market. It was wonderful and we ended up with some great pictures. The R3s were outstanding! After spending time doing this...we thought we'd drive down to Seattle. So, there we were... two visitors to Seattle's Pike Street Market (and the surrounding area, which was pretty seedy back then) packing around all this gear...boy, did we ever get some strange looks from the residents of skid-row. Finally, someone came up and told us we weren't suppose to be ambling round in that neighbourhood with all our funky looking camera equipment. Needless to say... we left in a big hurry!

    Since that time...I've also worked for a newspaper and was published in The National Enquirer! They ran 4 of my images and one of them was also sold to a calendar. If only I can get more assignments like that one.... :>)

    Since then...I've gone back to the Nikon (F100 and D100) system but have recently sold them off and am in the process of buying a Hasselblad H1. The digital back will have to wait for a bit of time... the prices are just too high at the moment. In the past year, I've also started shooting with a Sinar X... it's a fabulous piece of equipment with a bit of a steep learning curve. My subject matter is mostly floral in nature (in my make-shift studio.) With the blad...it'll be much more portable than the X and this is the camera I use out in the field. Sure, it's not as versatile as a 35mm but it forces me to "look at my shots" with a contemplative eye.

    Nowadays, my friend has an Olympus E1 system (that most people would dearly love to get their mitts on!) and he's just purchased a Leica Digilux D2. He's a great shooter and loves photography... as do I. But, his eye is a lot better developed than mine. I have an immense amount of respect for his talent.

    We can be found shooting on weekends regardless of whether the weather is good or bad. There's always something interesting if you choose to see it.

    And, that's my story!

    Cheers
    Life in the fast lane!

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