The year was 1983. Earlier that Summer I had been reuinited with my dad after not having seen him since I was 4 years old. Now it was my first Christmas at the age of 13 with my dad since I was 3. He gave me two packages and I opened them up.
One was a copy of the Joy of Photography and the other was a real 35mm camera with several rolls of black and white film. It was a Pentax K-1000 that I still have to this day in perfect condition. My father used to be a freelance photographer. His work appeared in catalogs, magazines, stock photography, galleries and even Playboy. His specialty was jewelry ads. He knew almost every hand model in Chicago and Dallas in the 1970's. Privately he loved doing landscaped and sunsets.
We would spend the rest of that Christmas break with him teaching me perspective, the rule of thirds, shutter speed, f-stops, using filters, lighting, developing and seeing the world through a new lens.
I fell in love with the torch that was passed. Not only did I get to share a passion with my father, but I soon developed my own style and perspective and I love how the world looked through the lens of a camera and the ability to share perspective.
The following year I would be a freshman in high school and spend the next 4 years as the photographer for the school paper and many of the yearbook photos. The teacher who ran the paper thought I had a great gift at bringing people alive and making them shine. I loved what I did. I loved student of the month, games, events, homecoming and prom court photos and so much more. My passion was growing and it was exercised almost daily.
By the time I was a Senior in HS I was taking pictures for cash in two local papers and sometimes saw my work in the Tribute or the Sun Times. Two of Chicago's landmark newspapers. I even got hired to do some stock photography and saw my work appear in ads. It was wondrous, but I never thought of myself as a photographer. I had other things to do. This was just my passion...the same was true with writing.
After college I would work full time jobs and get married and become a parent. The camera would be cared for, but not used. I would take a shot or two for someone's marketing literature or website here and there over the next 15 years after college, but nothing special.
Then came one session with my therapist in the wake of my divorce. She looked at me and asked me what my hobbies were. I gave her a blank stare.
A few weeks later I was shooting with my old camera again and I ordered a used and slightly beat up Pentax K10D digital SLR that could use all my K series lenses. I was seeing the world through the lens again and I could almost feel my now deceased father over my shoulder guiding me and helping me get back in the groove.
I kept the shots in my hard drive and shared almost none of them. Then I decided to step out and showed them to some friends who are artist and professional photographers and they said...you are not just good, you are great. You have perspective and talent and I feel the stories not told in many of these.
So now, here I am, sharing my work and my stories.
Tonight, I will be in my very first art gallery opening with two pieces. They are based off of songs and I will be among wonderful artists. I am an artist. We are artists.
My dad will be there in spirit looking over my shoulder. I have a guardian angel/muse (google Anam Cara) that cannot make it, but the inspiration given to me that created this moment will have the important people there in spirit. I am so glad to have my dad and the muse there even though absent.
The torch has been passed and I have 2 guardian angels over my shoulder.