Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton
One of the questions I am asked most is whether I studied photography in college. To many people’s surprise, I did not take any type of art classes in high school or college.
The follow up, which I am asked almost as often, is how I got into photography, especially travel photography. The story is kind of long, so I will spread it out over a few posts to keep it interesting.
Things really got started for me when I moved to upstate New York in 1999. Due to someone running a stop sign and nicking the bumper on my car, I had the cash to buy my first really nice film camera. I bought a Minolta 430si with a 28-200mm lens.
Admittedly, I knew little more than which speed film to put in my camera. Fortunately for me, the camera I invested in was really great at making a lot of the decisions for me.
The moment it all started to come together for me was late on a cold winter afternoon. I had seen some beautiful scenery while I was in the Adirondacks, but that day things changed forever. I was driving along and suddenly saw an amazingly beautiful scene as the sun was setting over a lake with the banks all around covered in fresh snow.
Something moved inside (yes, I’m sure it was not Taco Bell), and I was compelled to pull over and capture the scene with my camera. It was the first time where I saw the finished image in my mind before I ever pressed the shutter, and I knew that I HAD to photograph what was in front of me. I felt like I might actually die a little if I didn’t stop.
Sadly, I cannot find a copy of the image, and this was my first lesson in taking care to preserve the images I take the care to capture. But the feeling inside that made me pull over still lives on and now drives so many of my pursuits.
Have you ever felt compelled deep inside to pursue something that strongly? If so, what were you compelled to do? Feel free to discuss this in the comments below.