The secret life of…

Yesterday was a busy busy day, in fact most of my days are pretty busy lately. I’m almost booked solid until December! Don’t get me wrong, this is fantastic and I couldn’t be happier about it, but it leaves little time for editing and personal life. Yesterday I photographed a wedding, it was so beautiful with such vivid colors, fun decorations, a very unique guest book, and two fantastic people who became man and wife. When I got home I couldn’t wait to put my feet up, kiss my son, and relax in bed. My husband and I decided to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and let me tell you, I am in love! Every now and then there’s a movie that just sits in your soul and speaks to you. For me, this movie did that. Maybe because it was able to combine two of my favorite loves- words and photography, maybe it was the actors, maybe it was the humor, maybe it was the soundtrack..who knows?!? But I can say that when I saw the Nikon reference and the 85mm 1.4 scribbled on a piece of paper I shot up in bed with a huge grin on my face. My husband thought I was crazy and just laughed at my silliness. I myself am a Nikon girl, always have been (except for my very very first DSLR camera which was a Vivitar) and I always will be. The 85mm 1.4 is an amazing lens, very fast and very crisp. It  yields beautiful bokeh and allows you to stand a good distance away from your subject so you’re not as much in the face as the 50mm or 35mm. I love it! I’ve rented it a time or two and am saving my pennies for one of my very own. I am a prime lens girl, I prefer to move around during my sessions and feel lazy when I use a zoom. Anyway, back to the movie. There’s a scene where Walter and Sean are sitting in the mountains and stalking a snow leopard and Sean has his gear set up. In the movie he’s one of the very last photographers to use film, as it’s a dying profession. I took a look at his gear and got green with envy, and realized I miss film so much. When I first started photography I was in high school, it was about 15 or so years ago and I borrowed my Uncle Mikey’s DSLR camera for the class. I had no idea what I was doing, I had no idea what I was getting into either. I needed an elective and I had always enjoyed taking photos so I figured why not. Mr. Moxey was my photo teacher as well as my prior field hockey coach. I will forever be grateful to that man, he taught me how to hold a camera, how to not shoot in auto, and how to find my way around a dark room. He gave me something that I had never had before- he gave me a skill. I remember getting passes to go hang out in his room and the room that connected to his- Mr. Ruben’s. I spent so many days there just killing time in the dark room or developing my negatives. I remember when I left for college I took my Vivitar camera with me. When I came home from college at Christmas I had mentioned the mass amount of time I was spending taking photos with my then boyfriend (let’s just say we skipped a lot of class to explore Cincy and Northern Kentucky) and I told him I wanted to upgrade. I don’t know how he did it on his own, but I opened my gifts and in it was a Nikon N65. I was so excited! It was just a basic film camera with a kit lens, but it was a huge step up from what I was shooting with at the time. I had a few things going for me, I knew how to pick out film, I knew how to shoot in manual mode (I have NEVER shot in auto, sometimes A or S but never auto, which is a lot more than I can say for some photographers who shoot auto and charge for it. Cringe!) and I could get that triangle perfect, and I knew how to develop my own negatives and prints. I knew nothing about lenses, I used a pop up flash for fill, I didn’t know how to bounce light, and I knew nothing about digital photography that was starting to pop up, and I didn’t care one bit. Some of my stuff was pretty good, some of it still makes me cringe.

When I moved to Monroe, Louisiana I found it harder and harder to keep up with my hobby. I enrolled in photography classes at ULM but my professor was absent so much (he was ill at the time) that I hardly ever developed my own prints. He actually encouraged us to go to labs and get them done. I wasn’t satisfied with the quality the local labs were giving me, and I was even less happy that chemicals and supplies were so hard to find in that town. So I did what I never thought I’d do, I gave it up. I put my camera and my gear into my closet and I walked away from it. I had made so many mistakes my first two years of college that I wanted to start over and be anyone but the person that I had become. It had lost appeal to me, the fun was gone and the drive wasn’t there. It wasn’t until my husband and I moved to Alabama and he encouraged me to pick it up again. I dabbled in it but I had little to no time for it. I was teaching full time and grading papers like crazy, and it just seemed like every person with a DSLR considered themselves a photographer (and in some aspects it still does, but then again we all start somewhere) and I didn’t want to be lumped into that.

When we moved to Memphis I discovered a local Art College that offered photography classes as continuing education, which meant that I wouldn’t have to enroll full time and could learn digital photography. I was blown away by everything that went into it. There are so many setting on professional digital camera, and photoshop is another beast that is hard to conquer. I had to learn how to edit these photos, use actions, and all sorts of stuff. But I did learn about external flash, bouncing light, strobes, continuous lighting, and composition. It’s a hard field to break into, but I love every second of it. I love meeting new people and giving them memories to cherish.

I took my old N65 out of it’s bag tonight and looked at it. The batteries are long dead and there’s a roll of film still stuck in it that’s half used. It’s probably of my old basset Bubba and will bring me to tears when I get it developed it. I think I am going to stop by the store and buy some batteries for it tomorrow. It’s time that I set some time aside for myself and get back to basics. One day I will have my own darkroom, maybe one day I’ll even try to teach a film class. Who knows. All I know is that I’m on my way back to where I started and couldn’t be happier about it.


(forgive the photo, it’s an iPhone original :P)

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