The Journey Begins

My First “Published” Photo of a Canada Goose, February 2016

Welcome to the beginning post. Enjoy the read.

This will be a sort of long-winded story of my start in photography from the time I was a child to the present. (Early 2019)

From an early age, photography was something that would come and go in my life. It only made sense when connecting all the dots afterwards. I originally aspired to be a fiction writer. I also grew up loving to draw and paint. Simply put, I yearned to create stories and art to express myself and that others can enjoy.

Early Experiment With Water Long Exposure, November 2016

Photography came into my view when I vividly remember being told by my elementary art teacher Mrs. Cooper that everyone in the class should take photography class in high school. She mentioned that it was fun and worthwhile. I didn’t give it much thought until years later.

In junior high I was given a disposable camera from my parents to take pictures of a zoo I visited on a field trip. I can’t tell you what the pictures ended up as because the roll of film sat in that plastic camera body for over eight years and was ruined when I foolishly opened it, overexposing the entire roll. I doubt they were any good but this was an important step in my journey. Photographing animals seemed to be a lot of fun!

White Tailed Deer, November 2016

My photographic interest heightened ever more due to a video game system. 2009 rolls around and I am gifted a Nintendo DSi for Christmas that year. For anyone who doesn’t know video game handhelds, this was the first Nintendo DS with a built-in camera. Equipped with a whopping several megapixels, let me just say I probably spent more time taking pictures and using the goofy special effects than actually playing any games! Over the top editing expanded my creativity and augmented reality photos in real time took up my time. The next couple years I used this little device to nurture my early composition techniques. Finally the photographer in me was being birthed. 

Now a sophomore in high school, I recall the early exposure of being told of photography classes. Enrolling in two semesters, the first being with film and the second with digital. I was completely enamored to say the least. It was fun and engaging, all the more with a supportive teacher. I still have computer scans of my first assignments using film. These proof sheets show some rather blurry captures, some over or underexposed, and a select few sharp and in focus. The second had us working with landscapes, so my mother drove me to what I later know was Sibenthaler Fen not too far from my house. This early exposure to nature once again tapped me interest and abilities. During that first semester with film, working a traditional darkroom was not coming easy to me. Plus the smell of fixer I can never forget!

Rock / Water Reflections, September 2016

Anyways, I later quickly picked up digital photography with ease. Using a loaner Nikon DSLR for much of the digital assignments, my first time using a real expensive camera. The colors, the instant feedback of checking my progress. My ideas were set free and flourished. Most of my work at the time was still objects and pictures of my mother and I, not so much of nature although I did experiment with that. This is the time period where I learned how to take self-timer portraits, created a photo series, and wandered my backyard and town in search of imagery. Using a copy of Adobe Photoshop Premiere Elements at school, I sought for a lot of wacky and over the top effects that would not go over too well in contests. But I didn’t care, this for me was as good as art can get. Capturing an image and using post processing, the process was neat. The cutting mats, the paper trimmer, choosing mats as well. Where drawing and painting was too slow for me, photography became my field of choice. It felt as though I had a sore throat my entire life and now I began to have a voice. Digital photography was the medicine I needed!

Now, I first began diving deep into the art of photography at the end of 2013. I was gifted a Canon Rebel T3 bundled with a Canon 18-55mm kit lens from my parents. Moving hastily around the house taking pictures of every still object, the dog, with my first photo taken with it being me in the mirror. After exhausting all indoor opportunities. I became very eager to get outside in the freezing cold and explore the local park a few minutes from my house. This was before I had a drivers license, so I made my way via bicycle. Both fun and carefree, it didn’t matter how cold I was. This single trip was a photographic bonanza for me.

Graduating high school in 2015 left me directionless and confused as to what I should do with my life. The multitude of options froze my decision-making that I ended up taking a year off to hopefully “find myself.” This was obviously not an overnight endeavor. 2016 seemed to be the catalyst for everything I had known to that point. All the pieces fell into place when I made a little spot in the local newspaper with a simple Canada Goose portrait. This was also the year where one of my best friends and I went to John Bryan State Park for a day where I was floored by the enormity of the park and what was possible. That Autumn I made a conscious decision to enroll in online photography classes with the New York Institute of Photography.

Excited About First Visit to John Bryan State Park, September 2016

The year 2017 was when things started to look up for me. That same best friend and I drove up to the Narrows Reserve for a day where my skills were further enlivened. I finally got my drivers license that year and out of excitement explored tooth-and-comb every nature location around my county and eventually beyond. I managed to graduate from NYIP in a year The two classes I enrolled in really took me to where I am today. I will soon have a separate blog post detailing my experiences with the school.

February 2017, Photo Taken by Aaron Jinks

I set a goal for 2018 to be the year I took this passion seriously and fortunately it paid off. This has certainly been the hardest working year so far.

April 2018

You can clearly see that in three years, my gear and clothing reflected my passion and drive to pursue photography head-on. 2016-2018 were what I now consider my “baby years.” So far 2019 is looking to be my first big break in the local public and beyond.

To this day I am ever more grateful of all the people I have met along the way during my career. The most exciting thing for me is watching my skills increase and style mature with time. In a couple years it already has! Personally for me, the journeys and experiences when taking the images are equally as imperative as the final photo itself.

Birding, November 2018

Looking onward, I wonder what is next?

“To create photography is to draw with the light, so I guess that makes me a light drawer?”

– Me

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