What photography means to me...


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Dec 14, 2011
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I'm usually over there hanging out in the beginner's forum (that seems to be where all the cool kids hang out). But I noticed one of the suggestions for this forum was "what photography means to you." So what the heck. This may be somewhat therapeutic for me.

What does photography mean to me? It means having the ability to capture something I'll never get back again. Let me explain...

I've always loved photography, and I had the eye for it, but I was mostly a point and shoot guy. I've had a T1i w/ kit lens for a while but never done much with it. I knew I had twins on the way, and literally the day they were born I ordered a new prime lens and a speedlight and got out my photography books I've had forever. I was sick and couldn't visit my wife or kids in the hospital, so I spent 3 days, all day, learning photography.

Turns out my little girl only had 2 weeks here on earth, and I captured some great pictures (and video) while she was with us. That 50mm prime, combined with the knowledge I had gained in that short amount of time produced some amazing photos that my wife and I will cherish forever. Thinking about only having those images with the lousy in-your-face camera flash (washed out subject, shadows behind them, etc) just makes me so grateful I jumped head-first into photography when I did. Those images are all we'll ever have of our sweet little girl.

We've got this cute little boy, and now life seems so much more fragile and precious than it ever did before. Photography for me is now my way of holding on to every moment I have with that little guy. Due to several complicated factors, these two kids were the only biological kids we were going to be able to have, so that makes it all the more important for me.

So yeah. That's what photography means to me.
SPL Productions, that's a really touching story. I'm very sorry to hear about your baby girl... That's something that no parent should ever have to go through. It really is admirable of you to learn what you could about photography in that short amount of time, and apply it to capturing moments you knew would be very short with your new-born daughter.

What photography means to me is quite different. A lot of forum members don't know a particular backstory on any part of my life, and I've posted here for quite a while. I suppose for anyone that cares, this might be somewhat interesting. I wouldn't hold your breath, however. It's not oft I write a lengthy post though.

Growing up, I lived in a very well off household. Not "well off" as in "money falling out of our asses"... But you get the idea. My father was very tech-oriented, and my mother was very craft oriented. I remember my mother taking me out for walks at a very early age, and using her Pentax 35mm SLR and 50mm lens to take photos of me. Whether I realized it at the time or not, it had an impact on me. Recalling on previous times in my life, I've remembered asking her about those photos, and the particulars of taking photos. Not being old enough to actually apply the knowledge, I believe it planted a seed.

Through highschool, I was very defiant. I would not stand for the pledge of allegiance, and I certainly did not believe in "homework". I had many friends, but mostly because I "knew" everyone. I wasn't a particularly "popular" kid, and I wasn't in the superlatives section of the yearbook. I did not get grades that were reflective of my level of intelligence, and I knew that. I just had no desire to appease a school system, and at 17 years of age, that's a hard view point to bust.

I did end up going to college for graphic design. A community college, of all places. It was a horrid experience. See, during High School, I took a few 'graphic design' courses, if you are so bold to call them that. They're more like photo manipulation classes. I excelled quickly in this atmosphere, as I was very at home with computers (My father worked for a computer consulting firm as a VP, he now works for IBM), so photoshop and the like were a breeze to me. I enjoyed manipulating photographs quite a bit, but not as much as I enjoyed taking them... As I would soon learn.

During my collegiate experience, I became extremely fond of an African American lady in my Major. She was in several of the same classes as me, and we seemed to hit it off. I don't mean to sound racist, but she was indeed an African American lady from the most remote and sparsely populated town in Maine. It was a 6 hour drive to get from her house, to the college. That is an extreme rarity in Maine. Like finding a Charizard in your Pokedex. I digress...

This African American lady was quite interested in photography, and had some Canon bridge camera. I believe it was the S15 IS(?), and I took quite a liking to it. Using the camera, the feel of it (almost feeling like holding a DSLR), it all had me quite intrigued... Another seed, planted.

After my first year of college, I got a job offer from a local newspaper looking for a graphic designer/paginator. I was getting some pretty serious dough for someone my age, and working only 2 days a week, sometimes 4 days during the summer. I didn't attend any more college after my 1st year, as I was fairly content with my current position. At some point or another during this, the African American lady and I parted ways. Turns out she was having some e-mail relationship with an out of state dude, so I kicked her out of my house during thanksgiving break. "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here"

During this 3 year gig of paginating/graphic designing the newspaper, I grew quite interested in photography. After working my first 4 day week, and bringing home a reasonably fat paycheck, I went out and bought my first DSLR. A Sony A-200. I soon grew to hate the camera, and the fact that it was so behind in technology. A CCD sensor? Come on now... I can't have that.

So, after that, I upgraded to a Canon T1i, and now to a 5D. Photography has been the way that I've documented my life for the past 4.5 years. Photography is the one thing that I've dedicated a large part of my life to learning, understanding, and then applying. Other phases have come and gone. Things that I thought I'd be interested and continue learning for years to come; have sat in my closet untouched. Nothing has had the staying power in my mind that photography does, and it will continue to amaze me the more I understand. Photography has taken me to some pretty unforgettable places... Monhegan Island, State House protests, and photographing Obama to name a few.

So in summation, what photography means to me is that without capturing moments of my life, and the lives of others for brief fractions of a second, I would be a different person... Most likely for the worse.
"Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes forever the precise and transitory instant. We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again."
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Very inspiring story. Just goes to support the fact that photography isn't about pictures, or poses. It's about the preservation and celebration of life.

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