Around 1981, my parents bought me my first camera. I may have been 7 years old, and I think I’ve had one ever since. That was my first phase into a new way to capture the world because my original method was (and almost always has been) writing.
That photography phase didn’t last long and would reappear in 1994 when I went back to the store to get a new cheap point-and-shoot film camera, which was all I could afford as a college student. That was the phase that led to my desire to periodically capture some key moments in my life. Maybe I’m still in this phase but it’s changed as I’ve changed. It’s grown as I’ve grown.
“Periodically” is now “ubiquitous.”
That cheap point-and-shoot camera captured at least two large photo albums worth of my 4 years in college. Once my teaching career began and I started backpacking every available weekend, I upgraded the cheap camera to an Olympus weather-proof film point-and-shoot that captured (relatively) incredible landscape photographs. After handling a friend’s Canon AE-1 SLR in college, I went looking for my own and found it in a Pentax K-1000, my icon for manual photography education. As technology improved, I also started requesting my film to be developed into CDs for an extra fee. Now armed with two cameras, I quickly filled several albums of decent photos and a large Rubbermaid container filled with hundreds of rejects.
In 2005, not too long after the cellphone boom, I retired the Olympus point-and-shoot for a Pentax Optio WP (waterproof) 5mp digital camera and that’s when I started getting really trigger-happy (as probably most people did). I all but retired the Pentax K-1000 film camera at that point and stuck mostly with that digital camera I could put in my pocket. Four years later, in 2009, I bought a digital SLR: the Canon EOS Rebel T1i. I’ve had the T1i ever since and now have commandeered a hand-me-down 2007 Panasonic Lumix ZS7. These are the two cameras I use in conjunction with my smartphone to make daily photos.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the heavy and bulky DSLR, but lately I’ve been carrying it with me almost everywhere. If I need to go light, I take the Lumix. If I need to go ultralight, there’s always a phone in my pocket.
The current episode I’ve found myself in occurred when I discovered digital post-processing, which only became convenient to me recently with the introduction to Snapseed and other mobile photo-editing apps. The ease of tweaking my photos was mind-blowing and has changed photography for me. I quickly purchased Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to organize and process my 77,000 digital photographs since 2005. Suddenly, my photos came to life. The depths of color and the monochrome contrasts, all exhumed my past photographs. My eyes are in a new world and I’m only now really starting to study photography. The journey seems endless but captivating.