It all started in the high school darkroom…
It was the 90’s. I dressed myself in ill-fitting clothes and spent my days hanging out in the art hall, away from the masses. My art teacher, Sonny Bartlett, was a jack of all trades. He let his advanced students choose which medium they wanted to pursue. For me, of course, it was always, printing in the darkroom or shooting with the pinhole camera I’d built in ‘Art Class 101’.
It was magic, at first, watching the images appear only moments after slipping under the surface of the developer. It was divine. I’d watch the seconds tick but time was easily lost in the silence of the red light. It was obvious to me that I needed to find a way to spend all of my time perfecting this craft. I was in love.
Following this pursuit, I attended The Savannah College of Art & Design. It was here that I truly learned how to see & think through an image before taking the shot. Film was precious & mistakes were costly. Those years were spent learning how to compose & waiting for ‘the decisive moment’. A lot of time was spent watching & waiting. We were expected & were taught to shoot ‘full frame in the camera.’ Cropping was only for those who’d already mastered the craft.
At the time, digital cameras were far from what’s available today. We were shooting with $15,000 digital film backs that attached to your medium format camera. The camera was attached to a computer. You can imagine this doesn’t lend itself to much spontaneity.
When I shot with my 35mm film camera, it would be scanned (again with a fancy expensive scanner that I could never personally afford). Once scanned, we could then manipulate the frame digitally. Photoshop skills were introduced at this stage, but very simple in comparison to what Photoshop can do these days! To this day, I still believe you create IN CAMERA. Photoshop should not be an excuse for bad photography but rather a tool for enhancing what was already there. I can think beyond my initial frame; however the instance of capture is still paramount in my opinion.
All of this has influenced the artist I am today. Afterall, I wanted that Fine Art degree for a reason. I learned to obey the rules before I began breaking them. I learned how to see through my lens, to compose the shot fully before releasing the shutter.
I believe in the craft & art of photography… not the luck of ‘over-shooting’ & relying on my camera to make decisions for me. After all, what fun would that be??