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For the past 15 years, I’ve lived in Phoenix, MD (a small town adjacent to the northern end of Loch Raven Reservoir). I became passionately interested in photography in the winter of 2011…before that I had no real interest or training in photography, beyond occasionally taking pictures of houses as a kid when working for my father, who is a real estate appraiser.
Upon discovering my intense desire to learn more about the craft, like most obsessive-compulsive personalities, I dove head-first into anything and everything I could read about photography online. I remember the very first night I began my unofficial photography “syllabus” by finding Ken Rockwell’s blog via a google search of “photography”. Regardless of the controversy which swirls around Ken’s website, I enjoy his bitterly acerbic online personality.
Shortly after discovering Ken’s site, I purchased my first DSLR (a Nikon D700), and first lens (the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G). After getting both in the mail from B&H I remember the first time I tested them out, taking some random shots of my younger son and our cat. This one, which was taken that day, is still among my favorites:
In this shot, I held the camera with my right hand, then held my left hand above my head, snapping my fingers, which caught his attention. He’s staring at my left hand.
I obeyed Ken’s suggestions: in aperture mode, set the f-stop to 1.4, ISO to 800, and fired away indoors with no flash. At the time I had no clue what aperture or ISO was, I just did what Ken told me.
After that I was hooked. I became a sponge, taking in every article, book, and video tutorial I could get my hands on. For months and months, I spent practically all of my free time reading or watching anything that involved photography. I’ve honestly forgotten more of what I read in that first year of learning about photography than I’ve remembered from my entire education in undergraduate school…mostly obsolete, esoteric theories of economics.
Next up on the list of people who played a vital role in my development in photography is Matt Kloskowski (Matt’s home site is here). I found him through Scott Kelby’s website. I owe nearly everything I know about Photoshop to Matt. Matt’s talent as a teacher is second to none. I recommend checking out his blog or any number of his online instruction videos.
Even after shooting for several years, I am constantly learning all kinds of new tricks and strategies to (hopefully) further improve my work. Ideally, that learning process will never end…from what others who have decades of experience in this craft have told me, it doesn’t. In my opinion, you know when it’s time to move on from something if you are no longer learning anything when doing it.
If I could share only one idea with another photographer, it would be to always remember that whatever you create with your camera will be your own unique personal expression. No one can take that away from you, regardless of whether or not you followed any preconceived notion of what makes a “good” photograph. If I am happy with a shot I took (an extremely rare phenomena), that’s really all that ultimately matters.
In addition to doing photography, I truly enjoy writing about it…and have written several articles for the Digital Photography School website: you can check out the articles here.
What I post online is in the extreme minority of what I’ve taken…the remainder of which is permanently buried inside my Lightroom catalogues, never to be seen beyond my own disapproving eyes. Sometimes I go back and look with utter astonishment at some of the trash I’ve produced before…sometimes by accident (i.e. not exposing or composing properly), sometimes by just purposely creating well-composed garbage.
My goal in creating this website was to hopefully produce an enjoyable and entertaining blog and portfolio of my work. That said, if any of you read all the way down to this part of this page, my deepest sympathies…you’re never getting back that 5 minutes.