I was 14 when I picked up my first camera. In that first semester in my “Introduction to Photography” class I’d discover the childhood and youth I felt I lost so long before. I found my innocence and a space of clarity behind the lens. I’d discover my voice in the silence of countless images. The silenced child within me would scream loudest every time I released the shutter. Slowly over time I’d begin to develop images within the school’s darkroom, but I’d find the peace inside of me to develop who I was, and to emerge a better person. The love affair would develop slowly and has lasted a lifetime. The sound of a shutter releasing would forever be ingrained in my soul. My life would become a series of images, a virtual cornucopia of images, moments, and elegance frozen in time. The feel of the barrel of the lens in my hand and the weight of the camera melting into my soul. I knew then, as I know now, that my life and my mind consisted of images in time, captured and stored within. I spoke loudest when I was silently capturing images. One single decision at such a young age (to sign up for that class) changed the entirety of my life.
To this day I can recall these sensations. I still love the sound of the shutter. I still love the sensation of capturing a moment in time. I can still smell the developer, stopper, and fixer in the darkroom…the dripping of the chemicals back into the bath as I hung my images. When I’m in my space, wandering with camera at the ready, I see things that I am sure no one else can see. I don’t see apparitions but I see the moments between the feelings. I see the light within the smiles. I feel like I can capture the happiness between the pain and the truth that is just below the surface. Unlike a movie playing through our minds, as our brains continually roll from reel to reel, I feel the power of stopping time with the simple release of the shutter. Light touching a subject, dancing all around and gently brushing in backlit glory, the wisps’ of one’s hair. These are just a few of the things I see through my lens. Like a dilating pupil I can turn the aperture this way or that..adjusting to the dancing light. I’m in a space all my own as I create, as I paint with light, as I capture the fire flies of life’s memories.
My dad bought me my first camera (Pentax K1000) by scraping and working extra. I remember the sleepless night it became my own. I had no film yet, merely the box with no memory. A camera waiting to capture the fireflies spinning in my mind. I’m not sure I ever thanked him for that camera or all it took to make sure his son was simply equipped for his class. Little did he know he’d change the course of my whole life and give me the voice I so needed. Little did he know he’d bring so much color into my life and so much joy to my soul. That one camera set me off on a journey that will only end when my heart makes its final shutter release. I am certain my father never knew that handing me that camera was worth more than any kid, any man, any human being could ask for. He handed me the key to my soul and he’s been one of my biggest fans ever since. He’d let me tag along on endless weekends to his part time job at a raceway where I’d hone my skills with my camera. He’d always look at my images like he was looking deep into the life of a National Geographic Photographer. He gave me a way to escape all the turmoil and to paint over the pain with the release of that shutter. Thank you dad…for giving me not only the gift of “life” but the gift of living within this life. I may never be a Pulitzer prize winning photographer..but I know in your eyes I have always been one! Through my lens, through your gift, you’ve given me art and expression. Happy Father’s Day Dad!