Well, I could expound on photography as my passion, or explain how a high school photography class first turned-me-on to a lifetime devoted to photography, but both stories would be lies.

You see, I was born and raised in Rochester New York, the home of Eastman Kodak where, in the early 1950s, almost every neighborhood was graced with the presence of at least one Kodak breadwinner, and every family had at least one, if not more, relatives employed by the largest camera manufacturer in the world. So, needless to say, if you were born anywhere near Rochester back then, it wasn’t rare for a child to enter the world with a camera in their hand.

Most children found creative ways to ignore the extra appendage, others found a means for permanent removal. My dad, who supported his family on the meager income of a public servant, couldn’t afford the cost of a kodactectomy. So, I learned to live with this light-sensitive appendage.

At first, I played with this protuberance as if it were a toy; but as my intrigue grew for this device, it became my dearest friend. It charmed me with its ability to capture a split second in time, record it on a thin piece of plastic, and in time, trigger a memory.

At the tender age of 14, my father came home with a packet of recently developed film, and laid before me an image I shot of my sister. Attached to the photo was a note from the film processor, “This is a prize-winning photo.” I evidently attained the “10,000 hour rule.”

As time progressed, the appendage became second nature to me. So much so, that as a mature adult, someone asked why I carry a camera everyplace I go; to which I had no answer. The time had come to decide whether to permanently remove it, or do something productive with it.

With retirement looming on the horizon, I decided perhaps this appendage could actually be a means of supplemental income. However, to do this, I would have to become a photographer. According to modern psychology, if you want to be something, you have to act as if you are already. But, how does a photographer act? I had no role model. I merely grew up among camera owners.

So, in 2006, I packed my bags and headed to Missoula, Montana and spent the summer at Rocky Mountain School of Photography, hoping not only to learn how to act like a photographer, but maybe I could actually learn the proper use my appendage.

As it turned out, my photographs only slightly improved, and acting like a photographer involved a very large ego, and expertise in pixel manipulation. I learned how to transfer a crappy photograph into a photo imaging software program, and make it an even more vile-looking image. My photographs, I was told, were merely pretty pictures, and of course, there is “more to photography than making a pretty picture.” No thanks Photo Shop, I’ve grown not only to love my appendage, but to respect it as an extension of myself.

So, I may not look like, or act like a photographer, and regardless of what I learned in school, my heart ‘s desire was never to make “pretty pictures,” but to make things “look pretty.” You know the kind of photographs I’m talking about, the ones that have the capacity to not only soothe the soul, but give strength and comfort to the weak and weary.

With that said, I am unable to honestly claim photography as a passion. If I have a passion at all, it would probably be geology. After all, I devoted four years of my life, a lot of blood sweat and tears, and far too much money learning the intricacies of an eclectic science. But then again, a lot of people say I was born with rocks in my head.


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