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Photo Tip of the Week

Happy Father's Day

Today is celebrated as Father's Day in the United States and in many other countries. That may not seem to some as a topic for a photography tip, but for me it is. In a somewhat nonlinear fashion, I owe my passion for photography to my father.

Growing up, our family moved around a lot. For some with a similarly itinerant upbringing this was due to a military connection. In our case, it was courtesy of my father's job with an oil company. When he got transferred we moved. And when we moved we got to see parts of the country we might not have had we stayed in one place. Each summer, we went camping on various family vacations locally, but when we moved to a new city we really were in for new adventure.

By the time I had started school our move frequency had begun to slow, but our travels had left me with fond memories. They also left my father with the photographs to render those memories tangible. Most of these were shot on slide film which we would watch together as a family using a slide projector and screen. I have print copies of a few of these but most now are just memories.

Truth be told, most of my father's photos were more documentary than artistic. Our family slide shows were filled with more shots of us kids lined up in front of various national park entrance signs and visitors centers at midday than they were with inspiring shots of national park vistas at the peak of their potential in beautiful golden hour light. Never mind the awkwardness of posing for all these shots over the years, in the end it left me with an indelible appreciation for photography as a means of preserving memories.

I continued to enjoy camping and the outdoors through involvement in Scouting as a youth but the photographic element was diminished when compared with our family trips. For a time, I lost touch with photography, continuing with my appreciation of the outdoors but leaving behind the succession of images documenting where I had been.

It wasn't until coming across the work of the late Galen Rowell that saw the true potential of photography as an art form. His pairing of photography with the great outdoors clearly differed in intent and execution from what I experienced growing up. This creative element definitely deepened my appreciation for what photography was capable of.

But it was the familiarity with photography as part of growing up that formed the beginnings of my involvement. Without that I may well never have been browsing through a Galen Rowell book in the first place. Sooner or later I'm sure I would have seen the potential and impact of "real" photography but may never have viewed it as something I could do myself had it not been for my father.

Long since retired now, my dad has since taken a few timid steps into digital photography and sometimes calls me seeking advice. I'm only too glad to help of course. There's no way I could ever repay everything from growing up I owe my parents. The beginnings of my interest in photography only scratches the surface.

The equivalent of Father's Day may fall on a different day in your country but no matter. In the end, this week's article isn't really about Father's Day per se at all. It's about whatever got each of you interested in photography. You may already have found occasion to reflect on that yourself from time to time, but if not you should. Go back and look at the photographs of your life and appreciate whatever route you took to get here. It may have been a straight line path or far more round about than mine, but be thankful for it, whatever it was and continues to be.

Date posted: June 16, 2013


Copyright © 2013 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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