Once upon a time, a 12-year-old girl received a 35mm film camera for her birthday.
This was an exciting gift, a step up from the cheap 110mm film camera I had been using. When I was a kid, I was constantly taking snapshots of our cats, my friends, and anything that caught my fancy. Looking over old photo albums, I was clearly obsessed with documenting every square foot of my aunt and uncle’s home in Idaho, where I spent some of my childhood summers. Taking photos was a fun way for me to document life.
As a teen, I took a couple film photography classes and used my first SLR camera. I learned the technical aspects of photography and played with chemicals—I was in my element. I remember feeling exhilarated on the first day of my black-and-white film photography class. Pretty sure I had a huge grin plastered on my face as the teacher went through his 20-page syllabus.
I spent a lot of time in the darkroom (my poor, dry hands were proof). I photographed people and pets, as I was accustomed to, but they were transforming from snapshots into art. I also discovered a love of photographing nature and still life, so I continued with color film once the black-and-white class was over.
I briefly used a point-and-shoot Canon in high school, and then in college I upgraded to my first digital SLR, the Canon Rebel XT. It was the same camera I used as a photojournalist for PLU’s student newspaper. I was studying journalism, and hoped to use both my writing and photography skills in some way or another.
The newspaper internships I landed in college, and my temporary gig as the university’s photographer, gave me that opportunity, and I relished it. After graduation, I worked as a reporter (and occasionally took photos) for a couple weekly newspapers. Gradually, I was taking photos for myself less and less. I made a career switch—from journalism to a job as a production editor—but my camera was still gathering dust.
So … I started a Project 365, a photo project in which you take a photo every day for a full year. It was kind of a gutsy thing to do, considering how out of practice I was, but I did it anyway. It was frustrating at times, but it brought me back into the game.
The best part of the Project 365 was that it improved my photography, and when it was all over, I really knew what kind of photography was right for me. Not photojournalism, though that was certainly fun—and not portraits. Instead, I love still life, particularly nature and food photography. And that’s what I continue to shoot today!