These days it seems like everyone wants to be a photographer, or is already one. Photography is fun, it’s expressive and it keeps memories alive. So, why not pursue it as a hobby or profession? Forty-four years after getting my first camera, I still do the photo-thing. How about you?
It was 1968, when I first picked up a cheap camera made by Agfa of Germany. The doggone thing could only focus by use of its footage scale, and composed with a tiny viewfinder. Even in 1968 camera products made in Germany were supposed to be high quality, but this Agfa gem was not. However, I carried it everywhere, taking hundreds of unfocused photos. I wondered the whole time, “How do I get sharp pictures?” My second year in the Navy I purchased a Pentax H1a film SLR with 50mm f2 lens in Jacksonville, Florida for $149.95. Whoopee! Now my photos were sharp. I could actually focus and compose through the lens! Then the Navy sent me through photo school in Pensacola, and it was zero-to-photographer in 18 weeks. What a rush.
When still a young sailor in the Subic Bay, Philippines I was in Adm. Zumwalt’s Navy. My hair grew longer than regulation. It was picked, patted and formed into a nice fluffy ball, the short-lived military Afro. It was an expression of “independence” while wearing the uniform. Nonetheless, I always carried out orders to photograph crime scenes, VIP portraits, visiting dignitaries and dead bodies. In 1973 American POWs were repatriated from North Vietnam, arriving by way of Clark AFB. I was there with other photographers from around the globe. It was my responsibility to process all the military film for quick turn-around. None of the photos I took exist any longer, I don’t think. The brass confiscated all of it.
So, now, with some history behind me as a U. S. Navy photojournalist, I realize I have been at the fringe of history. For years I shot and processed film of minor celebrities, admirals, generals, pomp and circumstance – and telling the story of the common sailor, marine, and airman. President Gerald R. Ford was a photo-target, comedian Bob Hope and some Hollywood people, pro football players and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Locally? The Family Circle Cup pro women’s tennis, that’s my claim to fame.
The Lowcountry is saturated with photographers, in my opinion. That is okay for the eager amateur, but the aspiring professional must work harder to separate his or her talent from the rest. And, how does one do that? Perhaps by trying something new, something others do not consider doing. Hmmn.
Join me. I hope you will read this blog (blog - such a strange word). My purpose is to provide you insight about photography from my point of view. I'll take a chance by accepting feedback from time-to-time.