Photography has been a major part of my life for many years. I started shooting snapshots with a toy camera when only seven or eight years old. I graduated to a Kodak Instamatic 110 when I was about ten. I remember fighting back tears when I was told that the Community Education photography class I had registered for shortly after receiving the Kodak camera had been canceled. I was only ten and knew nothing more than how to take snapshots, but I realized that there was more to be discovered. I settled for what that little camera could deliver until high school, when I purchased my first SLR, a Pentax ME Super. I promptly registered for a photography class and was hooked.
Over the years, through both formal education and experience, I have learned that photography can be a meaningful art form. Powerful messages can be delivered and personal feelings can be shared. However, just because photography can do these things, doesn’t mean it always does. Techniques must first be practiced and mastered and personal vision developed so that thoughts and feelings can be successfully rendered in the final image. I constantly stress to my students that technique must be mastered to the point that they no longer have to think about it, it just happens. Then, and only then will they be able to really let their feelings flow into their images.
One cold morning last week I was out by the lake in the dense fog. I was all alone, walking a path I had been on many times before, but this time it was different. At -8°C and all alone in a sea of fog, an eeriness that is hard to describe enveloped me. As I strained to see through the fog, a scene that many times would have appear to me in lighter tones and more neutral in color, appeared instead in darker tones and cold shades of blue. I could barely make out a few warmer shades of color in the brush in the foreground. My feelings were changing the way I viewed the world. The process of photographing the scene before me now became just a formality. The vision of the finished image was already there! Thought, feeling, technique and vision all worked in unison to create a photograph that described how I was feeling better than any words, or at least my words, could.