The thrill of watching a white sheet of paper develop into an image began in high school. It’s a thrill that never ceases to amaze me to this day. The challenge, excitement and fun of photography began for me on Friday nights on the sports fields in Cleveland, Ohio. As a yearbook photographer I obsessed over trying to milk that little bit of film speed out of Tri-X to capture that elusive moment of sports glory for our high school teams. Armed with my trusty 35 mm Canon camera, I prowled the fields and gyms and spent many an hour locked in a cramped bathroom in our basement making prints of our athletic heroes for family and friends. Faced with the challenge of paying to go to RIT to major in photography or going to a state school to major in chemistry, I heeded my father’s advice to follow the broader scientific route. Sage advice from a musician. After all he had experience in following his art his entire life to make a living.
Photography took a back seat as first college, career, and raising a young family commanded time and resources but as a career in marketing blossomed, I was again exposed to photography, this time with gifted professional photographers in commercial photo shoots. The bug bit again. I was intrigued by the large format cameras used for still product shots and room scenes. I bought a Calumet studio 4x5 camera and began to play with still life photos and my own product shots. The beauty of a large format camera, particularly for a person stressed out with a career, is the concentration and change in attitude that is required to take a picture. Nothing happens fast and patience is required…to compose, focus and wait for the wind or the light to be just right…the perfect antidote to a stressed out existence. The studio camera led to a field camera. Recognizing my inexperience, I sought out a series of teachers and workshops.
For anyone who has never done this type of vacation or experience, I highly recommend it. Not only is your knowledge base expanded, but I have met the most wonderful people to share and enjoy a common passion. These teachers have included great photographers like Howard Bond, Dan Anderson, Chuck Farmer and John Sexton. Each has contributed to my overall knowledge of photography both in the technical sense but also in the appreciation of the art…its composition, fine sense of tonality and the exquisite quality of light as expressed in a black and white print.
Today as a retired executive, I have the luxury of traveling with my wife, an accomplished watercolorist (See her website www.jchinskiart.com ). We photograph or paint, do art shows and work together on our art. An amazing event was our joint show “Two Views” which Judy developed from common scenes we have photographed and painted over the years. Two expressions of a scene, one in black and white with all the literalness of a photograph, and the other through the eyes of a painter.
In 2010, Judy bought me a Canon 5DMkII, which opened up the world of digital photography and the immediacy of its amazing images and the world of color. Again, I cannot strongly recommend enough that you take the time to engage with other talented photographers/teachers, such as Scott Kelby and his team, Trey Ratcliff, Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe, Clyde Butcher, a dedicated old-school large-format photographer, in exploring and learning the new tools of photography, such as Lightroom and Photoshop. If you have a passion for art, take the time to enjoy life, soak up the knowledge, smell the roses and paint or photograph them.
All photographs copyright 2005-2016 Jim Robellard. All rights reserved worldwide.