Believe it or not, it wasn't always my goal to become a professional photographer. Although I enjoyed taking pictures, like most people, my original plan as a kid was to become an aerospace engineer. A very different path, right? Well, I had some engineers in my family and, being the action-movie-lovin kid that I was, my thought process was, "maybe I can help build a cool space ship!"
And so it was that, at the end of my 8th grade year, I kind of "mapped out" my highschool curriculumn based on the courses I thought I needed to take. A couple of math classes? No problem. I could handle some math. Chemistry and biology? I made a pretty sweet lava lamp. And then came drafting. Dun dun dun!! Learning to draw blueprints and schematics with the utmost precision. Luckily I had also signed up for Creative Photography 1 that semester, because, (no offense to you engineers out there) this easily made me forget all about space ships, and dedicate the rest of my life to the visual arts. From that day forward, I took every photography class that was available to me.
I have to say that, like most other photographers, the experience of developing prints in a darkroom was probably what got me hooked. All other aspects of the field also intrigued me, but seeing an image magically appear on a blank piece of photo paper for the first time, is an experience I'll never forget.
At the same time, my brother was studying acting and auditioning for the local theater. This was a great opportunity for me since he needed headshots and I needed a model for my assignments. So using my Canon FTB and a roll of Kodak T-Max (possibly ISO 400), I took his first headshots and headed to the school darkroom. After processing the film and making the first print, my teacher helped me retouch it to perfection. Now, you're probably thinking, "how are you retouching if you already made the print?" Well, this was manual retouching with a little liquid retouching kit and a brush - no Photoshop. Check out this video for more of a visual of the process:
My last two years of hight school I signed up for Creative Photography 1 and 2, and if I'd had an extra year, I probably would've signed up for part 3. From there, I went on to work in a photo lab, to learn yet another part of the craft, and at the same time to take photo classes in college. Unfortunately, there wasn't a strong photography program at the school I went to, so I took a focus on Graphic Design for a while, until finally taking The Complete Course In Professional Photography, from the NYIP.com.
Processing prints in a darkroom was a fantastic experience and part of an art that seems to be fading these days. Nevertheless, those are the memories that I treasure and that sparked my love for photography. They gave me the a solid foundation and a love for capturing a beautiful moment in time which I'll be able to look back upon to relive.