Sometimes you need to cross a path several times in life before you realize that it's the path you should be following. Such is the story of my interest in photography.
Most photographers would tell you they can remember when they got their first camera, and how they fell in love with photography immediately. Although I remember a couple of the point-and-shoot cameras I had as a kid, I don't remember much about them. I wasn't interested much in photography back then.
My real appreciation for photography didn't happen until my late teens, when I first discovered all of the interesting things you could do with an SLR camera. I jumped in headfirst, reading (and rereading) every book and magazine I could get, trying my hand at various techniques, testing out different types of film, and dreaming about the different equipment I wanted to buy. Everything that had anything to do with photography seemed interesting.
Of course, in those days I was doing little more than photographing the local scenery and chasing squirels around the neighborhood.
That grew old before long, and my interest in photography disappeared into the shadows. Over the next decade, my photography was an on and off hobby, mostly confined to taking pictures on the many cross-country car trips I went on. I was fortunate to get to see many of the western US national parks and plenty of other scenic views. I burned through roll after roll of film capturing everything interesting on those trips.
I was very proud of the work I did back then (and still am). I seriously considered trying to sell my work at art shows, but lack of money, lack of knowledge, and multiple hobbies competing for my attention got the better of me, and photography disappeared back into the shadows once again.
In 2003, with affordable digital SLR cameras begining to reach the market, I considered picking one up and rekindling my hobby...maybe even trying to turn it into a business as I had dreamed of years ago. Of course, affordable didn't necessarily mean cheap, and I debated for 6 or 8 months before I finally decided to take the plunge.
That was one of the best decisions I ever made. Digital photography was a godsend, and it really made my interest take off. The two things that really made a difference were instant feedback and no processing costs. Not only could I see instantly what I did right or wrong, I could spend all day retaking the same shots and not have to pay any processing costs. My knowledge and ability grew by leaps and bounds.
In the summer of 2004, I made one very important change. I went from "taking pictures of my vacations" to "taking vacations for the sole purpose of taking pictures". I fully immersed my self in the scenery of the Great Lakes region, and learned there was much more beauty there than I realized. I still take trips to further away locations, but the majority of my work is based here in Michigan. In the last 2 years I've photographed nearly 100 lighthouses, visited 8 national parks and countless state parks, seen dozens of waterfalls, driven over 10,000 miles, and taken over 11,000 photographs.
Of course, these days, I still visit the local scenery and chase squirrels around the neighborhood every now and then. However, I continually push myself to photograph more lighthouse and more parks. I return often to some of the same locations I've visited over the previous years, attempting to catch it from a new angle or in different light. Whether different or the same, there's always a new view to photograph. That's what drives me.
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