So, there were a lot of hot girls in the photography class in high school. I joined, but I didn’t have a camera, so I used my dad’s old Argus 35mm camera from his Navy days in the ‘ 60’s. It didn’t work right, and chewed up rolls of film. The teacher didn’t like me. I don’t know if he disliked me, or didn’t take me seriously as a student because of my gear deficit. He was definitely playing more to the girls than the guys in the class.
My brother-in-law, Ed Hopkins, bought me a camera. He was an obsessive compulsive person who, when he took up a hobby, he bought all the things. So he started photography and bought all the box cameras like the ones Ansel Adams used, as well as all the new 35 millimeters and all the extra lenses and the darkroom kit too. He wasn’t a very good photographer. He realized that he didn’t have an eye, in spite of all the gear. He encouraged my eye and gave me one of his old Minolta cameras, and a 300 millimeter lens, and it just changed everything.
I first started taking photos of sunrises after tripping all night in the mountains of Boulder. I fell in love with the lens. It was like hunting, trying to capture the perfect moment, to capture even a bit of what my eyes were seeing.
The budget of a starving artist kept my photo habit in a luxury realm. I learned to frame my shots carefully, and shot rarely. Sometimes I made a roll of 36 exposures last months. Some rolls deteriorated before I saved enough nickels to get them developed.
In Hawai’i I started using a 3.2 megapixel Canon Power-Shot, and could shoot to my heart’s content, exhaustively and experimentally. For my last few years in Hawai’i, then all through North and Central California, to the first five years in Butte, I always had a camera on me. It was my electronic support animal, giving me a reason to be where I was, providing a currency and passport. I documented my communities and significant events only to throw the vast majority of images on a hard drive to sift through later, to see what the future might show me about my past.
Let the sifting begin…