I've been sitting on writing an in-depth post about my journey into photography for awhile. There are a couple of reasons: For one, I think such posts are best written toward the end of one's career - when time, perspective, and success make the experience have more merit to the reader. Also, such posts can come across as a whole lot of braggadocio. I don't think I'm anywhere near the point where I can write a retrospective in regards to photography. I have a whole lot more to learn. This is merely a thank-you note to the dude that started it all.
I pretty much owe the inspiration for my journey into photography to a big, burly guy who looked like a disgruntled trucker and wielded a 5D Mark II like a Midwestern Mario Testino. My friend Sa'dia had done some glamour and editorial modeling for this photographer, and when we needed to do a branding suite for the hair salon we were opening, we hired him to do our images and logo. His name was Bud. No one knew where Bud was from, and no one knows where he is now. He tends to be a bit of a drifter like that.
We were wandering around the alleys of C-Street one summer afternoon with our models. While I was coaxing stray hairs back into my models' hairstyles and reapplying their powder, I noticed that he wasn't really doing a lot of talking. He let the models become comfortable, and then just started shooting. "I let them do their thing. I just watch," he said about his low-key style. Sometimes his shutter would click once or twice, other times it was like a rapid-fire machine gun.
I started to brainstorm suggestions for locations to shoot in, without knowing what I was doing. I walked by a doorway that was open to a flight of steps. Workers were going in and out, and it was littered with plaster and dust. But the light inside that stairwell looked like a Vermeer painting, and I said as much. Bud goes, "You're right - that's damn good light." After a few more times of things like this happening, he turned to me and said, "Have you ever picked up a camera, young lady?" I said, "No, not really." He just said, "You should. You're a born photographer."
I'll never forget that.
Four years later, I wouldn't call myself a "born" photographer. I've had a whole lot of failures on my journey. From incorrect white balance, to crappy framing, to over and under-exposed images, I have made plenty of mistakes. But I've learned from every one of them. And sometimes, when I get really discouraged, and feel like my creativity is stalling, I think about Bud's words, and it makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, I've got what it takes to make this work.
So, wherever that unassuming dude with the ball cap and ripped jeans is today, I just want to tell him "Thank you. "