Saturday, July 6, 2013

Just another photo blog

Yep, just another photo blog! I read a lot of photo blogs myself but, with the rare exception, too many of them are talking about how this camera/lens combo produces images that provide this or that exceptional difference.
Since I first got involved with photography back in 1978, to me it has been all about the image and its content. I have images I love, not for their technical accuracy (or lack of), but for their content. And that, my friends, is what I will try to do here. I am not sure what kind of following I will (or hope to) get but I will leave that for the future.
I guess the first thing that needs to be done is an introduction. I am an old guy on the cusp of full retirement age living in Carrollton, GA, USA. I squandered my youth by not applying myself in college. I first thought I could be a commercial artist but then met people who were really gifted like one of my granddaughters (more on her later) so shifted to civil engineering. But it was too late to bring up my GPA so the folks at Mississippi State University thought I deserved a break. Well, it was 1968 and guys like me did not get to just sit around. I joined the US Navy and spent 8+ years as a submarine sonar technician. During that time I got married, had three children, and spent a LOT of time at sea during the Cold War. When I got out in 1976, I started working for military contractors. My wife bought me my first (what I considered) serious SLR in 1978 for a birthday present. I chose an Olympus OM-10 with a manual adapter and Zuiko 1.8/50mm lens. I had never had an opportunity to have this type of equipment and starting perusing books to get a better understanding. Long story short, I fell for the black&white artistry of Ansel Adams and the subject matter of photojournalists like Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Ronis, and the like. I started taking a few classes at the local community college to gain experience in composition (part of my earlier training in commercial art helped here) and the technical aspects of the darkroom.
I never was very good in the darkroom. There are people even today that can produce some beautiful work without a computer using the techniques of Adams. Sadly, I am not one of them.
Over the last 35 years, I have slowly progressed in technical skill but have not really changed from my initial precepts about subject matter. I went from a single camera and lens to a pair of bodies with multiple f2.8 zooms and even faster primes. But thought of being a photojournalist documenting life as it happens was something that was a dream.
After raising our three kids (including the burying of our oldest son at the age of 19), my wife and I decided life was too short to spend it working in dead end jobs. So, after working for several military contractors, I quit my job in Atlanta, GA, and we moved to the Florida Panhandle into a log cabin on a coastal dune lake.
I approached a small weekly newspaper (that was only a year old) with sports images from the local high school. The paper had no staff photographer and no sports reporter which became my way of getting in. Eventually, in the economic boom of the mid-2000's, I became the first (and, as it has turned out, ONLY) staff photographer for the paper. This was both a blessing and a bane. A blessing because I had a fulltime staff position (my dream job!) and a bane because I had no time for commercial endeavors.
When the bust started in late 2007, I could see what was going to happen. After a job search with local military contractors, I landed a fulltime job which got me through the early recession with decent pay and good benefits. After four years, military contract cutbacks began in 2011. I went through several iterations of being furloughed before being laid off in July 2012. My wife and I had already discussed retiring back to Georgia to be close to our kids (and, of course, grandkids) so we sold our cabin (for a decent profit) and moved to Carrollton.
After almost a year of submitting resumes to no avail, I am now resigning myself to the fact that "retirement" is going to happen.
So, now what?
Well, to that end, I am starting this blog. Doubtful that it will make any money but hopefully will inspire some people. I plan on going back through 35+ years of images to start posting. For each image, I will talk about why the image is special TO ME. If it inspires you either negative or positive, I would love to know your thoughts. In the past, I have had people come up to me to tell what an image meant to them or what they saw in it and I have looked at the image again with renewed interest. Besides this blog, I plan on printing some of my favorites and looking around locally to find someone or place that might let me hang a series.
Oh, one final thought, about the title of the blog. Several years ago, I purchased a photobook by Bryan Moss titled "Photosynthesis". Moss makes reference to American philosopher Will Durant and Durant's thoughts on civilization. After making remarks about how people view "history as a turbulent stream of conflicts", Durant talks about the quieter side of life. That is, the ordinary people just getting through each day, raising their children, listening to music, and greeting neighbors. "The history of civilization," Durant said, "is a record of what happened on the banks.”That is my goal here. During my photo career (such as it was), I was fortunate to shoot a number of high political figures and a few jazz greats but the images that stick the most with me are the ones of ordinary people going about their daily lives. I would like to thank Bryan Moss for his "simple guide to the magic of photography" that put to words what he said with his images and what I hope to achieve with mine.
Whew, after all that, here is the first image.


This image is from the very early years of my (so-called) career in photography. It is a simple shot of my oldest son at the age of approximately 7 on roller skates. When I first viewed this image all those years ago, I thought, how boring! Today, some 22 years after his death in an auto accident, it is among the most precious of images I have ever shot. The composition sucks and the horizon is tilted (look at the power poles and townhomes) but this is an image that I will always treasure as it is one of the few links to my son. Yes, I have other children and they are just as precious (along with my grandchildren). Now that I am closer I am able to see them more often but I look back now and wish I had done more shooting of them at this age. That is why the few images I have are like gold to me.

Make a comment!! Let me know what you think! Until next time, keep on shooting.....

3 comments:

  1. I love your blog already, Rich! And this photo of Scott is priceless. IMHO, the horizon is perfect as it is. As this energetic youngster was rolling down the sidewalk on those skates, that's exactly how the skyline looked to him. If that pole were perfectly perpendicular, it wouldn't encourage the viewer to experience the sensation of skating with the boy. What a great shot of our sweet nephew! <3

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  2. THE FIRST BLOG COMMENT! Kinda like that first dollar that a new business post up on a wall. Thanks, Linda!!

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  3. Wow, Rich, I feel down right presidential! haha! :-D

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