Although my Mommy didn’t send me off with a Ninja Turtle backpack and a kiss on the cheek, I still felt like a kindergartener on my first day at college. I was a late bloomer; a 27-year-old first time college freshman sitting in a room full of wet-behind-the-ears teenagers.

Professor Bob Regier turned the lights off as the hum-slide-click-slide-click-hum of the plastic carousel advanced his photographic images.  I became lost in the power of his images, an epiphany that makes the top-ten-list of my life’s sacred moments.  Because of that, over the course of time and time in courses, I have taken hundreds of thousands of images and even spent a few years with my own portrait studio where I made a living with a camera.

Real photographers don’t “shoot” – they “capture an image.”  When I pull the camera to my eye, I believe there is something waiting for me to capture its beauty to reveal to others.  Something magical happens to me when I pick up a camera and look through the viewfinder. The above image of the deer, “Caught Playing,” is an example of beauty waiting to be captured and revealed. Here are a few life lessons I’ve learned behind a camera:

  • I have to eliminate visual distraction
    • You’re peripheral vision is quite vast. Fix your gaze on one object in front of you, then take your left index finger then your right index finger and see how far up and down you can see without moving your eyes. There a vast territory of visual information that your mind is processing.  Look at the before and after photos to illustrate this principle. The camera is pointed at the same area in both, but it is the concentration on a particular area that makes them different.
    • Before
    • Big Horn Sheep Before

      Big Horn Sheep Before

       

    • After
    • Big Horn Sheep After

      Big Horn Sheep After

       

  • I have to focus
    • For years, my very expensive medium format cameras were purely manual focus. It taught me to concentrate on a particular area instead of the entire frame.
    • Before

      Snow Dollops Before

      Snow Dollops Before

    • After
      Snow Dollops After

      Snow Dollops After

       

  • I have to trust my instincts
    • Often, the difference between an okay photograph and a great photograph is composition.  Look at these two images to understand. If you keep your finger off the trigger and just look and move the camera around, you’ll soon find a great composition that you can actually feel. Beauty is instinctual.
    • Before
Barns Along the Diamond Before

Barns Along the Diamond Before

  • After
  • Barns Along the Diamond After

    Barns Along the Diamond After

  • I must believe beauty is hiding and waiting to be revealed
    • I used to wander away from a place and say, “there’s no photo here.” But I’ve learned to keep looking- that I will discover beauty if I just look long enough.
    • Before
    • Butterfly Before

      Butterfly Before

       

    • After
    • Butterfly After

      Butterfly After

Sometimes I let my camera bag set way too long and we miss each other. My cameras are not equipment; they are my friends who help me discover images excited to reveal their beauty to those who pause to see.

Check out my gallery. Let me know what image you like. Tell me why you like to photograph or look at photographs. And if you want some advice or instruction, just ask- I love to help people enjoy the discovery of photography. In fact, I’ll be doing a “Flint Hills Photo Safari” in May, but it will be limited to ten people so let me know if you’d like to go and I’ll send you the information.

In the meantime, grab a camera and go discover beauty waiting to be captured and revealed.

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