I’ve been interested in photography for my entire life. As a child of about seven, I watched my uncle look down into a viewfinder camera… I was amazed at how the lens image lingered above the glass plate, like a ghost. Noticing my curiosity, he guided me through the intricate opposing movements required to handle the camera, the image being reversed through the viewfinder against one’s natural viewpoint.
At roughly nine or ten, our extended family spent summers in Lake Tahoe, took road trips to Aptos, and engaged in events where the Nikon camera was handed around. My elders showed me how to adjust the aperture between the limits within the viewfinder, and they also guided me through shutter speed settings.
By the age of around twelve, I had a complete understanding of a Nikon camera; how to remove and attach lenses, how to add a battery flash to the flash head, how to use a tripod, how to use a separate shutter adapter, and most importantly, how to properly wind exposed film and add a new canister of fresh film to the Nikon body.
During high school, I attended photography as an after-school class and introduced to dark room practices. I understood slide film, having shot many photographs of family events with slide film, and though the dark room was an interesting part of the photographic word, what enticed me was the fantastic shine of light from a photo slide, the “direct positive” film, where an image could be placed in a projector and shined onto a large screen. I understood the nature of slide film, the lack of “latitude,” where exposures had to be within one f-stop plus or minus the perfect exposure range.
As a young teen, I took the time to develop photographs from both direct positive films and negative films, then evaluate the quality. Much like adjusting the turntable for a better-sounding record, or tweaking the bias of a cassette tape head, direct positive “slide film” always produced richer colors, deeper black & whites, and a cleaner overall image, regardless whether the image ended up as a print or projection.
My preference has always been to work with direct-positive images. Today, the digital photography revolution no longer differentiates between negative and positive substrates. Projection opportunities are endless, and the ability to share is inspiring. It seems as though a lifetime was spent working in a bygone medium of celluloid and chemicals, of preserving medium from an unwanted light, from scratches and physical things… to a clean digital representation of what is captured within a brief moment, whether negative or positive.
Understanding this history, I appreciate all of the old-world techniques that made me the photographer who I am today. Learning and following best-practices of old-school technologies, where it was important to be clean, organized, and disciplined in one’s craft, leading to an emotional response from you, the viewer.
This portfolio represents photography from nearly my entire life. It represents my childhood view of the world. The camera was handed to me as a young boy, and that young boy is always behind the view finder, enticed by the colors, the shapes, and the brilliance of life.