It has been a real pleasure reading other folks’ stories. Everyone has a story. Every human is unique. Not “special” necessarily, but unique if only in one single way.
Duck, I was especially interested in your story since some of it is like mine, except I was a full-time working pro, 16 years as a studio owner, doing ---everything. My late wife was our business manager. I was the chief photographer, chief assistant, chief printer, chief retoucher, chief gofer, chief floor mopper, whatever. I called it a “general practice.” I rarely turned down an assignment, and then only when I was certain I could not do it. We bought an existing studio from a portrait-and-wedding guy, so we did portraits and weddings, but my background was commercial photography. I even have a “degree” in it, an Associate of Science from Laney College in Oakland, California, thanks to my long-suffering wife + the GI Bill. I quickly discovered that my degree plus 50 cents (I think at the time) would get me a ride on the bus. If I wanted to work, I had to self-employ. I freelanced some years before we bought the studio, where we lasted 16 years, but ultimately our combined lack of business acumen caused the studio to sink beneath us, taking everything
with it. Folks ask me now what it takes to be a pro photographer; I tell 'em Business Courses! On the other hand, being a full-time working pro made me a pretty competent photographer. I will never be an artist, but I always, always get the picture.
My wife’s sister lived in Madison, Wisconsin. “Come here,” she said, so we did. I sadly hung up my guns and spent months (I was then 52 years old) trying to get anyone
to hire me for anything
. Unfortunately I finally landed a lawn-and-garden gig at Sears. Most of you know that once you do something, that is now what you are forever. I finished my retail odyssey 16 miserable years later at Home Despot (no that’s not a misspelling). At least we built up a little retirement between us, and we made the most of it.
For years I essentially refused to pick up a camera. In 2007 we were going to vacation in Colorado (my bride was born in Wyoming and was a Denver U graduate). Daphne wanted me to take a camera. I complained [whined] I was already overpacked (which I was), so she offered to budget a hundred bucks for one o’them newfangled digital
thingies. I was reluctant, but not as reluctant as I was to take a "real" camera. I selected a Nikon L-12, no bigger than a pack of cards, and HOLY POOP WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! To this day I cannot believe
what that tiny camera could do.
Duck indicated he had some issues getting used to digital menus and buttons and bells and whistles (I KNOW whatcha mean!), but I was incredibly lucky that my studio was burgled in 1986.
That’s lucky insofar as I had to replace my stolen SLRs with a matched pair of Canon T-90’s, today considered one of the finest 35mm SLRs ever designed, and loaded with newfangled electronics and menus and buttons and stuff. I learned that camera inside out and backwards and it set me up perfectly for digital. The biggest single difference was a sensor instead of film. My tiny L-12 could do stuff that I am certain I could not have done at all
in film. I went bazoogas. The following year I staged up to a Nikon P5000, a “Performance” camera with manual control, but no raw. In 2011 when our son was getting married I stepped up again to a Nikon P7000. I was and still am pretty dedicated to all-in-one compacts. I still have a P7100 and a P7800 (electronic viewfinders ROCK), but last year I stepped up again to a 1” sensor Sony RX10, still laughably in the “compact” class except it weighs almost 2 pounds with its massive
f/2.8 Zeiss zoom, but review after review confirms that it is pretty much a fixed-zoom mirrorless, a pro camera in all but name. For me, the convenience of a do-it-all camera outweighs (see what I did there?) the load of a huge bag of gewgaws on my shoulder.
When I got that L-12 I also got a gift of Photoshop Elements 2.0, where I cut my finishing teeth. Last year, when I got the Sony, I opted to subscribe to Creative Cloud. I’d been shooting raw since 2015 and kept hearing how incredible was Lightroom. I am now a total believer. Raw ROCKS! Lightroom ROCKS. So does Photoshop, but I always begin in LR and only go to PS for things that Lightroom can't do at all, or does less well.
So why am I here? To commune with like-minded photographers. I define a photographer as one who takes pictures. I dislike to classify amateurs and pros. Amateurs do it for love, pros do it for money. Today I think of myself as an amateur, a retired pro. I have seen amateur work that blows the doors off some pros, and pro work that made me wonder, Are you kidding me? I am absolutely positively not a purist, and I am willing to share anything I may know with anyone who asks. Nicely. Asks nicely.
Camels and Hedgehogs and Mentors oh my? “...to create a place where both pros and amateurs can come together to meet, share ideas and learn from each other, without egos, without posturings and without the drama encountered in so many other forums…”
I came over from the Hedgehog, not because it was so awful over there, but there did seem to be an awful lot of trolling and flame-warring. I am somewhat sensitive, and just before Christmas I lost my bride of 46+ years so that’s why I drop completely out sometimes: I get in a pretty deep hole. I’m pretty good right now, as in today, and having other folks to talk to is good, but flame wars and trolls are not good. Minnie and Linda and Steve invited me to check out photoMENTORIS (you've no doubt noticed there’s a lotta ‘hog refugees over here). I like the peace! I try to stay involved but sometimes I back into the hole. I guess it’ll get better eventually. Meanwhile, that’s my long story and I’m stickin’ to it.