Process 049 ☼ When Did You Fall In Love With Photography?
Giveaway: two photo books by Jackie Dives
This week I’ll share some beautiful stories about falling in love with photography as told by you, the Process community. I’ll also share my own story alongside images from the first few rolls I shot with my Pentax 67ii, a major fall-in-love moment.
For the Giveaway we have two beautiful limited edition photo books by Jackie Dives, a Vancouver based photographer who regularly contributes to the New York Times.
The moment you fell in love with photography
Last week’s Process Giveaway question was “What was the moment you fell in love with photography?”. You submitted many wonderful anecdotes and asked I could share some of the other stories in the next issue, so here we are. I’ll go first. Look below, that’s me!
Growing up with a photographer father meant there was never a time in my life where I wasn’t around cameras, prints, and negatives. Some of my earliest memories involve playing with my toys under the red light of our attic darkroom as my father developed and enlarged his work.
When I was old enough I started coming along for my dad’s photo walks. I snapped away enthusiastically, documenting whatever caught my fancy. At times my dad would enlarge my snapshots into large prints and bring them along to his photography club meetings and come back with glowing reviews from his club co-members. You can imagine this motivated me to keep going. Positive reinforcement! It works!
Taking pictures was as normal for me as playing football might have been for my fellow 6-12 year olds so I never really thought about it as anything special. It was just what we did. Looking back I can see it was a very special way to bond with my dad and it very much planted a seed in me that is still growing all these years later.
Fast forward past my teens and college years when music took over from photography as my main form of creative expression. At this point I live in NYC and working in the music business, but photography slowly started finding its way back into my life.
Before leaving on a trip to India I decided to get a digital camera and once there I snap away once again and end up falling back in love with photography. Here’s one of my favorite shots from that trip.
Still, at this point in time music is my main form of expression and it even became my profession for a good few years, working as a record label guy and concert promoter.
Fast forward again, to a period where after years of loving it I became disillusioned with the music business. I reached for my camera once again in an effort to figure out who I even was outside of being “the music guy”. I traveled around the United States and on a whim decided to document the creative communities of the cities I visit, unintentionally starting the project One of Many which consists of portraits of more than 600 creatives across twelve cities. This project has me feeling more alive than I ever did in the music business and boom I’m back in love with photography, again!
Now I was in for life. I was able to build One of Many into a successful project and slowly transitioned into being a professional photographer over the next few years.
Fast forward to 2017 when I found my way back to shooting film. I tried out a bunch of cameras and struggled to get a close connection to any of them. Matching with a camera is such a personal and subjective process and it took me a year and a half to really find that match. This brings us to September of 2018 when, after a lot of research and saving up, I bought a Pentax 67ii.
Like I said in Process 047, shooting with this camera made me feel like I came home. The camera and I had an understanding from the first roll and I felt it understood exactly what I was trying to do. It made me feel more determined and even more in love with photography as a craft. The shot below is from my first roll and features my friends and fellow photographers Paul Jun, Ray Neutron, and Tutes.
All the images below are from the first five rolls I shot on the Pentax 67ii as I was falling for it. In between each picture I have included some of your beautiful stories of falling in love with photography. Thank you for sharing, they’re so special.
I fell in love with photography when I thought my Olympus OM-10 broke. This was my grandfather’s camera and when he passed away it was gifted to me. On the bottom of the camera there is still tape that says “If found call Tom at xxx-xxx-xxxx.”
When the shutter locked in place I thought I had lost the ability to use the camera, and with it, the ability see the world as he had through that same viewfinder. I eventually got the camera to work again, but now when I use his camera, or any camera, I know I’m giving an insight to those in my future of how I see my today. — Nick Albano
The moment I fell in love with photography was when I was taking photographs of dragonflies in a creek in the south of France with my father.
I was around 12 years old. It was the first time he let me use his Nikon F4, which he had lugged all around Asia while on expeditions. It really clicked for me when he explained ISO, shutter speed and f-stop. In that moment I understood that with photography you could capture a moment in time and freeze it, but you also had a creative choice in how long of a moment in time you could freeze and even an artistic choice as well.
We were shooting slide film and I really enjoyed that you can make that moment in time tangible and still look at it from different angles and in different light so many years later instead of just a digital snapshot. — Max Rozendaal
The moment I fell in love with photography was when I had my first film roll developed and looked to the scans. I am a shy person so when I saw that I could communicate and express myself through photography better than by speaking, it was like a new path unlocked for me. - Noemí Pérez
I remember the photo I took that made me fall in love with photography. It was 2008. I was backpacking Europe with some college friends, armed with a digital Olympus point-and-shoot to document our trip. We were visiting the Vatican, which was a surreal experience in itself.
I stumbled upon a small group of nuns in a dim corridor walking in a perfectly straight line, perfectly spaced, led by a priest. A beautiful beam of light came though a small window near the ceiling and illuminated one of the nuns exactly. That beam of light seemed heavenly. I couldn’t imagine how this scene was even real. I need to dig up the photo and see if it is as good as I remember. I think about that photo often, and that moment is burned into my memory. — Spencer Callen
The moment I fell in love with photography is very clear to me. My great grandfather was an amateur photographer. He died long before I was ever born and I never got to meet him, but my grandmother gave us a box of his equipment to put into storage.
Up until that point, I had taken a couple photography classes in college and I learned the basics with a digital camera. I didn't care much for the medium and I just took the classes to compliment my degree in graphic design.
One night, I discovered the box of his things, and inside I found a Leica M3 along with 5 lenses, and a Rollei 35. From just inspecting the Leica I found a deep love for that camera. I cranked the shutter and fired it repeatedly just because it felt so good.
I stayed up past 2 am that night just to learn everything I possibly can about the Leica M3, Rollei 35, and shooting film in general. Over the next month, I shot at least 5 rolls of film in each camera, but I had yet to figure out how to develop them.
Sadly, at the end of the month, my house burned down along with all of my belongings, including the camera. Insurance promised to replace the cost of all of our items, but it would be a while.
So I had no camera to work with at that point so I went out and bought a cheaper SLR to shoot film with for the time being. The Canon F1 became my main camera and I still shoot with it all the time.
Now, I shoot, develop, and process film all by myself at home, and with insurance gradually starting to refund the lost belongings, I've finally managed to replace my great grandfather's Leica M3 with a new one.
Photography wouldn't have become my number one hobby if it weren't for my great grandfather whom I never met, and for that I am extremely grateful for him.
That was the moment I fell in love with photography. — Hugh Elkin
I used to be so camera-shy and my mother decided to help me overcome that. She worked in high fashion and one day she just grabbed a camera and we started shooting. She taught me how to be comfortable both in front of and behind the camera.
I became passionate about photography because of the push she gave me early on. Before I have my own camera I was digging through our old family stuff and found my father's analog camera, a Canon t70. The camera was bought in 1986, and most of our childhood photos were taken with it. I bought a roll of film, tried it out, and never looked back. In other words, my love for photography came from my parents. And I’m very thankful for that. — Mona Shani
I fell in love with photography when I was going through some of my parents’ old photos. My parents aren’t photographers, but before I was born and for the first few years of my life, they took a lot of photos. Digging through those old albums and flipping through the pages made me really appreciate the importance of documenting my life and everything not being “picture perfect”. — Larry G.
I can't clearly visualize in my mind the exact moment I fell in love with photography. For a very long period of time photography was just there, in the form of hundreds of Velvia slides taken by my father.
Throughout my teenage years I took lots of photos, but during my Master’s Degree studies something clicked in my mind and I started to take pictures of my friend's graduation party and document my life.
It was when I began my film photography adventure that I really felt like I was falling in love. I started to see photography in a much deeper way. Before that, I had never read a photo book for example and now I have a small collection). — Alessandro Chiariotti
When I was 14 I took the family camera into the backyard to take some photos of the birds. I managed to photograph a bluejay mid-leap as it hopped between an old fencepost and a stump. Something about seeing it frozen like that and knowing that I had taken the photo at just the right time and that it was entirely my creation was so exciting. I had never been any good in art class but I had somehow managed to create an image that I felt was beautiful. There was really no going back after that. — Matt Bozec
I was six years old when I fell in love with photography. Someone gave me a plastic hot pink Barbie branded 35mm camera. I took it on a train ride through a canyon in Southern Colorado with my grandparents and shot some images that looked exactly like one might expect a 6 year old to take. But it got me fascinated with capturing things through film photography specifically, seeing how the light changed in images, seeing shadows and reflections in puddles and windows. It felt mesmerizing and filled me with intrigue about the world around me in a new way. Thankfully it still does. :) — Bethany Vaters
My father always had cameras in his life from the Leica he purchased in the 1950’s while in Germany, to a Canon FtB/AE-1, an early Polaroid Land camera, a Mamiya RB67, and now Canon DSLRs. We always had a 'camera cupboard' filled with lenses and camera bodies.
I got my first camera when I was 10-years old - a Kokak Instamatic 104. Many cameras have followed since. In answer to your question, photography has been in my blood as long as I can remember.
One 'aha' moment would have to be the first time I started working in a darkroom in college. There is nothing like seeing that first print come alive in a tray of Dektol. The rest is history, and I taught photography for 30 years in the US and Switzerland. I am still in love with photography. — Kim Nelson
There were so many other wonderful stories that you shared about falling in love with photography, but sadly there is a max length to these emails so I have to save the next chunk for a future issue of Process.
If you didn’t enter last week’s Process Giveaway but want to share your own story, just hit reply and I will add my favorites to the list for the next time I run these stories. Thank you to everyone who shared these beautiful personal anecdotes. It means a lot.
Alright that’s it for this week! Next week is the 50th issue (?!?!?) of Process and it’s a very special one. It includes the half-frame video I mentioned last time and more!
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others.
Jackie Dives is a Vancouver-based photographer and New York Times contributor. For this week’s giveaway she has generously made available two of her recent photo books. “The Hardest Decision” is an art book about her time cycling across South Korea after she experienced a significant loss in her life. “Becoming Not A Mother” is an art book about Jackie’s choice not to become a mother and what the immediate aftermath of that choice looked like for her.
To enter email me at firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line Process 049 Giveaway, before 11pm EST on February 23rd and answer the following question:
What is a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A issue of Process? (Ask away, anything to do with photography as a craft and a profession, as well as anything you’re curious to know more about in terms my personal experiences and journey in photography.)
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