Show me ’til I see.
That was how Nana responded when we ran in to show her something. I’m sure it was partly a function of her ageing eyesight. Even more, it expressed her patience and her generous nature: she wanted us to slow down, and share the story of what we brought (a worm, a shell, a book). She also wanted time to give attention and really see what we were excited about.
This is what inspires my photography: Slow down. Pay attention. Be generous. Be grateful.
(Okay, this is what inspires my life.)
My first camera was a high school graduation present: a Minolta X-700 with a 50mm kit lens and, later, a UV filter. And for the next 20 years, I took 1000s of photos with that camera — portraits, landscapes, macros, and more. I tested the limits of a 50mm as a walk-around lens. (I am slowly scanning those negatives to digital backup.)
I learned from everything I did — trial and error — but it didn’t occur to me to expand my set of tools, to buy a book or take a course. I wasn’t being arrogant — I just didn’t take my own work seriously enough to do that.
When I first met Ed, we shared conversations about travel and an interest in photography. He pointed me to his website, and as I opened pages, I came to know him better through his pictures, through his eye on the world. This was a revelation.
Now, I’ve learned so much more from seeing others’ work, especially his.
In 2003, Ed gave me my first digital camera, and after a brief time of parallel systems, I embraced the new. The easy ability to take countless photos can — and does — result in a lot of crappy pictures. But it also raises the statistical likelihood of getting a great one, and I experience a freedom to experiment with digital that I didn’t allow myself with film.
A good telephoto lens followed, then a zoom with premium optics, some filters thrown in — am I becoming a gear nerd?
(If you have to ask…)
When we were asked to photograph a wedding in 2008, we each decided it was time to upgrade. Technology had changed a lot in five years, and I knew more about what tools I wanted and how to use them. The lens collection continues to grow, with the addition of two exquisite primes.
Still, the camera matters a lot less than the sensitivity of the person holding it. I’m still learning and always will be.