Who or What Made You Get Into Photography?

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Whether you're totally new to photography or have been a veteran for many years, we all have someone or something that inspired us to begin this journey. Let us know how it all began once upon a time in the comments below. Me—it all began with New York Newsday photographer John Conrad Williams and his photojournalism class in college. He pushed me to create better pictures and unlocked my passion for documenting human life: the emotional, the intimate, the unusual, etc. Listening to his stories and the way he pushed me to strive for perfection made me addicted. Now tell us your story in the comments below.

Photo by Rachel H.

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My inspiration would have to be my friend and mentor, Stephen Salmieri. He's the last of dying breed; an artist in every sense of the word.

Jason Naparstek

B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio

My dad.  We went on family vacations and he taught me the basics of photography when I a kid.  Since then I've been taking photos of anything and everything.

I continue to be influenced and inspired by the people and places I know and see every day.

Is it possible to be born with an inclenation toward photography? There are snapshots from my first few years on earth where my mom noted on the back that i took the photo - I asked and received my first camera on my 9th birthday (a cheap 126 cartridge film), bought a Kodak instant camera for my parents anniversary when I was 11 or 12, and the list goes on... Today I am still learning new techniques with both digital and my new favorite toy, the holga, But I am still fascinated by all devices that capture moments in time.

"Life" made me get into photography.  I have enjoyed caputuring moments as they happen my ENTIRE life and my photography has become an extention of my hands and eyes. 

My dear late friend got me into photography a little over 20 years ago, he mentioned I needed a hobby.   Although I always loved photography however I started taking photography classes after he mentioned it & I love black & white photography.   I just lost my friend a couple weeks back Tom Lee, he was one of the best photographers/artists.  He exclusivley did black & white & also was the president of the Paseo Artists Association for several years. 

Thanks Tom!!

About 10 years I purchased my first digital camera. A friend and artist asked me to send him photos for him to paint, living in beautiful New Hampshire, finding beautiful scenery was not hard to do. My first image I had taken look pretty good, helping me realize a new interest and hobby, photography. Instead of using the camera for holidays, birthdays, vacations and putting away in drawer waiting for the next event, I started shooting.
 
I just recently posted how I became interested in photography with a few pictures
http://mydaymyinterestsphotoblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/photo-that-sparked-my-photography.html

 

 Most of it was both my late Father and Uncle. My father was a painter, and I just could not make the canvas say what I wanted. My Father gave me his camera, a Ricoh 110 film with aperture and shutter speed control which was unusual for a 110. I set out to express myself. One night in 1970 I was walking home and happened upon my Uncle, a fireman, was leading his men in putting out a warehouse fire. My Uncle was in plain clothes, having been called in from dinner at a restaurant. I listened as he asked the men to cover him as he kicked in a door to gain access to the flames. The shot of the flames shooting over my uncle while ducking and the water spraying towards the door came out fantastic. I was hooked. I owe a second debt of gratitude to John Sexton for a weeklong workshop in 1980 -- something. That workshop changed my eye, my shooting and my life.

When I was about 10 years old (I'm 65 now), I used to "curb-sit" every evening with a grandfatherly neighbor and talked with him while he threw a tennis ball down the street to exercise his german shepherd dog. He gave me a light meter for my birthday, along with lessons on how it worked and why it mattered.  I used that with an old Leica my dad gave me, and I've been hooked ever since. Our daughter has a successful photography business going now; I'm glad to have passed on my passion to her!

My daddy...He was a great wildlifephotographer, a member of IFWP and he has tragically died (drowned) last year on St. Eustatius in the Carribean Sea... He loved nature and so do I..

I didn't get into photography, it got into me.  To look at the photos you have taken and see the emotion of it, whether it be the tear in a brides eye, the toothless smile of a little dirty face or the awe of a sunset, is just amazing.  To share those moments is priceless.  I am by no means a "pro" but I have been taking pictures for many years and when I go, I will go with my Canon in hand.  

My dad got me started as he was always interested in photography. He has a great eye for candid shots and just capturing life. I dabbled for awhile, drifted away from photography and then a good friend of mine got me back into it. I've been hooked ever since. :)

I decided to learn how to take portraits of my son after 2 horrible experiences at the now Bankrupt Kiddie Kandids.  The experience of dirty props, rushed, stressful sessions, inexperienced teenagers behind the camera and cookie-cutter portraits inspired me to learn how to take my own beautiful portraits.  5 years later I'm the owner of a modest but profitable portrait and wedding photography business.  

Ansel Adams. His work inspired me to explore, which in turn inspired me to capture what I saw.

It all literally started my Senior Year in high school. I was accepted into college day three of my senior year, and day four I was in the guidance office changing my class schedule. I picked up Photography classes as something that was fun and relatively easy for a senior with a college ticket (read: unmotivated). Little did I know that I would be swept up into the creative world of photography, my favorite hobby and creative release for fifteen years. I learned on film on a Nikon N2000 (still have it) and fell in love with photography.

 My grandmother got me into it.  She showed me the workings of a camera, how film speed matters, and how to get the right angles. She also bought me my first camera, a pentax k1000. 

She won tons of awards at the state fair for her photography, and i never realized it till going through her stuff after she passed away.  She never said anything about winning, or boasted.  She just accepted it and kept taking pictures.

My fondest memory of her is when we were driving in the country and she saw a barn she liked.  So out comes the camera and the film starts rolling.  Shes not getting the angle she wants tho.  So she decides to lay down, in the middle of the highway just to get the perfect angle.  Thats what made an impression on me.  

I kind of got caught up in life, and didnt even think about photography again till I saw Chase Jarvis' post on post production.  Needless to say, I think it was my grandmother up above who was telling me something.  RIP Granny. 

My dad... he gave me my first digital camera for b-day many years ago.  Shortly after, I took a business trip to China and brought it along.  That was the first time I realized how much I like taking photos of everything!!!  After I came back from trip, I enrolled in Pasadena City College for their black & white photography class and it all started from there.  Thanks, Dad~!!!

I think my love for photography came from the lack of ability to draw or paint. When I was a little kid I had a Kodak X-15 Instamatic that I took everywhere. Later when I was about 10 or so, my grandfather gave me my first "real" camera. It was a Bell Howell Auto 35 Single Lens Reflex with three lenses!

Actually, he didn't give me that camera, he sold it to me. He figured I would take care of it if I used my hard-earned money to get it. He was right. 30+ years later, I still have it and it still works.

Rob-L wrote:

I think my love for photography came from the lack of ability to draw or paint. When I was a little kid I had a Kodak X-15 Instamatic that I took everywhere. Later when I was about 10 or so, my grandfather gave me my first "real" camera. It was a Bell Howell Auto 35 Single Lens Reflex with three lenses!

Actually, he didn't give me that camera, he sold it to me. He figured I would take care of it if I used my hard-earned money to get it. He was right. 30+ years later, I still have it and it still works.

Rob,
My first camera was also the Kodak X-15. Used it for my high school photography class and got hooked. Stepped up to a Canon Ftbn and used it for many years. Ed Morgano, my H.S. teacher, really gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in the photography field.

We'd like to thank everyone for sharing their great stories.

-Steve Schwartz-
Social Media Coordinator
B&H Photo Video Pro Audio

 my love for my family and wanting to create the memories we cant get back

alan scherer wrote:

 my love for my family and wanting to create the memories we cant get back

My beloved father. He bought me my first Kodak Brownie camera (1955). He commented on compositions when I asked for it and I am not aware of him dictating anything. As far as I am concerned, I feel entirely self-taught - but of course that's not true. He gently guided me. My photo of him watering the rose bushes is just one of my precious things - when I was just 6 years old. Now I am a semi-professional, passion-driven photographer (with more cameras than an Airbus A380 I swear) who practices what I taught my photo-club students: You cannot take good photographs without being prepared to get dirty.

In 1973 I went to Denver to attend an English course for foreigners (English as a second language) and bought my first SLR camera, a Yashica MF2000 with a 50mm lens.

One of the shots I made inspired me to write an essay there about "How to Catch a Squirrel" - obviously illegal - so I wrote step by step, hunting-like style, how I took its photo.

The squirrel run away when heard the click of the shutter release button, but its image is forever captured by me. And I'm forever captured by nature photography.

My Grandfather, used to travel the country and took many pictures. I remember many a night in his basement with the slide projector on ( remember those ) watchine one of his many slide shows !!!!! My first camera was a mickey mouse head where you pulled one of the ears down to take a picture. I have always had a passion for photography !!

Thanks, JIW 

www.iliff.org

I think I have a couple of inspirations. The first would be my highschool photography teacher, who taught me that there was more to taking photos than firing the shutter. He made me strive to be the best in my class and continue to build on what I've learned and push my limits further. The second would have to be a subconscioud influence from my grandfather. Although he wanted me to pursue a career in engineering as he did, I watched him work with IMAX camera systems as well as create the Wescam platform which has helped influence every single stabilization system in photo and video. Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms and is a continuous thing, but it all has to start somewhere.

What made me get into photography? I had started with a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, a 620 rollfilm camera that was a birthday gift when I was nine. That was followed by an Argus C3, picked up in the 'Nam era, and used occasionally. But what really made me get into photography was a steering wheel, a used camera and a duck. 
 
To explain: I had a wood-rimmed sports car steering wheel that my brother wanted, and this was in the '70s. He offered to trade a Nikkorex 35mm SLR for the steering wheel. I was reluctant, as the camera wasn't working on the lowest shutter speeds, but he gave me a roll of Tri-X b&w film to test it out. So during lunch, I took the camera a couple of blocks away to a small pond, and shot the entire roll there, taking in the plants, water reflections and the ducks. 
 
Took that roll of film into the local camera store and had them make prints, so that I could see the details, checking for any problems. When I picked up the film a few days later, there were two images that jolted me, one of a mallard duck and another of a goose, both swimming serenely in the water.
 
Within six months, I had left my job in the imported car business, was working in that same camera store while attending college, and had purchased a used Nikkormat FTn and a new Nikon F (both black, of course), and a fairly decent array of lenses. These days it's all digital gear, but it was that old steering wheel, the Nikkorex and that swimming duck that started a career change and a long-lasting love affair with photography and images.

I have always had an obsession with photography and studied pictures in family albums and I knew that I wanted to do that too. I wanted to capture special moments and expressions.

My Dad gave me my first Polaroid camera at 12 and with a hammy cousin who begged me to take her picture I was off. I took pictures of pets in the neighborhood, more of the cousin, she wanted to be a model, nature and anything that caught my eye.

I have had a camera with me since. Photography is never dull, I love it!

Theresa Z. photography

I have always had an obsession with photography and studied pictures in family albums and I knew that I wanted to do that too. I wanted to capture special moments and expressions.

My Dad gave me my first Polaroid camera at 12 and with a hammy cousin who begged me to take her picture I was off. I took pictures of pets in the neighborhood, more of the cousin, she wanted to be a model, nature and anything that caught my eye.

I have had a camera with me since. Photography is never dull, I love it!

Theresa Z. photography

Seems like, "My Dad" starts many of these. Mine too. His Rollei E2 TLR, Argus C3 and Kodak Retina 35mm slr were staples of every family vacation. We're lucky to have all those albums and scrapbooks now & Dad's grandkids get endless pleasure looking them over. As I got older I'd have to add Life magazine and the Sunday NYTimes magazine to my personal list.

I have always loved the art of photography. My great grandfather was a commerical photographer before my time and had as one of his clients the burpee seed company for which he shot the images used for their catalogs.  Upon my fathers death, there was a shot of him in a camera shop up the street from his studio in philly holding a contax 1 which meant that it had to be circa 1934. So its in the genes.

By the way HenryP, we have met before when i was with AOL as HOST YGP Wetzlar on the message boards that i tended!  Your posts were always a help to those who checked out the boards!  ^5

First time I got a camera as a gift.. Pentex k1000 and I cranked the film winder to advance my first roll of Tri X400 through it.  

Opening the dusty box and sorting through the old and gorgeous black and white photographs of my family in pre- and post-partition Pakistan (early-mid 1900s) was the moment I knew photography was a passion of mine. Not only were the images, beautiful in their simplicity and richness of content and context, inspiring, but perhaps moreso it was being told by my mother that the images were taken and developed by my own aunts and grandaunts, in a time when women were not "supposed" to have such hobbies and interests. Those photographs showed me the power that a well-captured and developed image can have, and also that I can attain such quiet strength simply by being bold enough to follow my passion, whether it be photography or otherwise.

I've never stopped clicking since.

I have always been the photographer in the family since I could remember, perhaps 7 years old.  I loved to look through the eyepiece and take pictures when I was little.  Back then it was either a Polaroid, 110 or an old 120 roll camera.  But it wasn't until the mid '80s as a high school senior when a good friend of mine introduced me to 35mm photography.  He was the school's yearbook photographer.  His photography inspired me to buy my own 35mm SLR, the original Minolta Maxxum 7000 with a 35-105mm zoom lens.  From then on, I was hooked on the clarity, sharpness of SLR photos and the beautiful bokeh they produce to isolate my subject from the background. 

But film developing and equipment was too expensive, so I only took pictures sparingly.  Then in 2004 I bought my first digital SLR, the Canon Rebel and my love for photography was reignited almost 20 years later.  Free from the expense of film developing, I took many more pictures than I did in the past.  I learned how to use Photoshop as a result of buying my first digital SLR and I enjoy it very much.  This summer I purchased my first two L series lenses for my 40D.  The sharpness of L glass just left me flabbergasted. 

While film developing isn't a necessary expense any longer, equipment still remains expensive.  Some of my friends and acquaintances think I am foolish to have spent five thousand dollars on two lens.  But they love the pictures I have taken of them with those lenses *wink*.  

As a kid I grew up poor.  Needless to say toys were a luxury.  My Dad would give me old clocks and radios to play with.  My Grand-father was a photographer.  When I graduated grammar school, my Great-aunt gave me an Agfa Isoflash camera.  At the grand age of 14 I became hooked.   Since then I have owned ...my first personal purchase ...a Yashica Electro 35 GSN.  Great camera.  I later moved on to the Olympus OM-1....good camera but for my fat fingers somewhat ackward for me. This I gave to my sister along with the Yashica as she was taking photography in college.  Nikon's became my next choice.   Great cameras and more ergonomic to me.   Later.....Oh yes!...I became bitten by that Leica bug.  In short...to date, I now own no less than 22 Leica's and approximately 38 Nikon's and/or their offsprings.  IE Nikkormat's and Nikomat's.  I can't for the life of me think of a greater addiction than the joy of photography

As a kid I grew up poor.  Needless to say toys were a luxury.  My Dad would give me old clocks and radios to play with.  My Grand-father was a photographer.  When I graduated grammar school, my Great-aunt gave me an Agfa Isoflash camera.  At the grand age of 14 I became hooked.   Since then I have owned ...my first personal purchase ...a Yashica Electro 35 GSN.  Great camera.  I later moved on to the Olympus OM-1....good camera but for my fat fingers somewhat ackward for me. This I gave to my sister along with the Yashica as she was taking photography in college.  Nikon's became my next choice.   Great cameras and more ergonomic to me.   Later.....Oh yes!...I became bitten by that Leica bug.  In short...to date, I now own no less than 22 Leica's and approximately 38 Nikon's and/or their offsprings.  IE Nikkormat's and Nikomat's.  I can't for the life of me think of a greater addiction than the joy of photography

Ooops, lest I forget, after High School, I got employment at Walgreen's Special Division at their photo lab in Chicago in the '70's.  Later at a commercial lab. Hmmm, if memory is correct, this dinosaur worked in photofinishing for 19 yrs. LOL! Only further cementing my destiny with photography.   Can't think of a better way of spending free time than taking pictures as well as collecting classic cameras.

I have interest on photography since my childhood. Ganesh H Sankar is all time insipration for creative nature photography. A gifted guy.

I saw the photos of W. Eugene Smith, and realized how much drama a photograph had and how it could shape opinion. I just didn't have the patience to pursue photojournalism as a career.

I don't think there was anything in particular. In 7th grade, my parents gave me and my brother's each a disposable camera for a cruise to the Carribean. After that, I bought a film point and shoot for college, where I first really got my feet wet. Took a bunch of rolls and had a blast with it. After that died, I bought a Canon A60 for my first experience abroad, studying in HK. That really set things off, and I became addicted to shooting.

I used to look through magazines, like National Geographic, not really interested in the articles but the pictures (although I read the articles after looking at the pictures dozens of times).  I have always loved how a photograph can be absolutely story telling or awe-inspiring, making you feel like you are part of the moment or scene.  I just recently decided to take on photography and use those images as inspiration (I still refer to the NG website from time to time) since my extreme adventurous life came to a halt with life long injuries.  Since I can no longer be the person in action, I can photograph it instead.  Also, the B&H community has helped with insights and tips to further improvement my novice skills.  In essence, the world and artists/journalists of photography have impressed me to become a photgrapher.  Thanks!

Our wedding photographer was beyond aweful (shots and customer service) while charging us $5,000. We ended up Photoshoping most of the photos ourselves.

This gave us an idea... if such a talentless asshole can charge 5K per wedding, why can't we?

While we kept our full-time jobs, we've made portrait and occassional wedding photography into a good source of side income.

I'm not especially drawn to making pictures, but have found that it behooves me to give it a go. I make life story and family history books and often find that i need to make pictures. Best is they're good!! Also I have grandbabies, and when I'm with them, I love to photograph them and make videos, which, of course, they also love. Anyway, I used to be intimidated by it all, but I find that taking it slowly when I have some time—which I'm making now—I can handle it. I'm taking a couple of (very) short corses at the community college in santa fe, where I live, and I've worked with the instructor one-on-one a couple times. Next, I'll order up some equipment and take a digital photography workshop. Who knows? I may fall in love with it!

In 1955 my dad handed me his old camera, an Agfa rangefinder. I was ten. He gave me a meter that attached to the camera strap. I shot gobs of transparency and print film. I finally wore the little camera out. In 1968 I got out of the service and bought a Nikon Photomic Ftn and that changed everything. I've had six dark rooms, lots of Nikons, a Hasselblad full kit, and I was chasing Ansel Adams with my Wista 4X5 (which I still have) for years. Spent a short time at Brooks Institute (one trimester) and realized I wasn't going to be a professional and did other things. But I have always had a camera and always loved taking pictures. I'm retired now and I have a small portrait studio on Bainbridge Island, WA with my wife, Lucy Brown (www.aberownstudio.com). I love working closely with people and I love taking pictures of people. I'm in heaven and still not making much money but doing the best work I've ever done. You are never too old to do this work and digital is partly responsible for that. I loved film but digital is something else. I'm the luckiest person in the world, by a long shot.

I've always been artistically inclined having spent most of my time growing up playing  around with the standard forms of media, i.e. pencil, marker, etc; and it wasn't until I had a French roommate that I actually had a chance to use a DSLR.  At first, I was a stricly 'P' mode kinda shooter not really knowing the concepts of how to adjust for the scene.  After a while, I started to branch into the other modes, mainly the "manual" mode as I felt it was the only way I could really learn how to use the camera the way its meant to be.  I've never been formally taught, but rather trial and experiment were my teachers.  Started researching various sites and books that gave me a better understanding of how a digital photo is taken and began to apply it to my photography.  I always thought I had a good idea of what's appealing to the eye in terms of spatial relationship, and in my eyes is one of the most important elements of any photograph.  The more I shoot, the more I learn as there's always a new or different way to approach things and that is part of the reason I enjoy photography.

Hopefully this essay will get me an 'A' in photography class... lol

thanks for listening and remember to bring your camera everywhere you go, there's always something you'll miss if you don't have it on you