Why photography?

This is a little background about me and goes a little deeper than my about page.

Like most photographers, I started to enjoy photography at a young age. This was the film age and in the days of disposable cameras (a foreign concept in today's world). I can remember getting a couple of disposables before going on a family vacation and trying to take pictures of the sites and surroundings. I can remember one vacation in particular where we went to Colonial Williamsburg. I found something that I thought was interesnting and my sister still ridicules me about it today. I don't have the photos, otherwise I would show them. But I saw a couple of squirrels playing and I used nearly an entire roll of film on those two squirrles! It sounds silly now and a little absurd how someone could take pictures of something so ridiculous, but it was the world as I saw it at the time. When someone gets a camera, they suddenly find all sorts of things they want to document, a flower, a sunset, an empty street.

 Photo by Max Ellis  Way more exciting that the squirrel pictures I took

Photo by Max Ellis

Way more exciting that the squirrel pictures I took

Photography began to become more exciting for me in high school. I took a photography class my senior year and had never touched an single-reflex lens (SLR) camera, nor did I really know what one was except a "real" or "professional" camera.

It was in this class where I learned the basics of photography: exposure, composition, lighting, depth of field, developing negatives and prints, and of course the joy of photography. I really enjoyed being behind the camera and taking photos. Unfortunately, at the end of this class I had to return the camera to the person that lent it to me, and I didn't have another camera to use to continue my new hobby.

After this class and into college I wanted my own camera. I also found out that SLR cameras were not easy to obtain for a young kid making minimum wage. I got what I will call a "fancy point and shoot" Kodak Z710.

 The Kodak Z710

The Kodak Z710

This little point and shoot is where things started to get more serious for me. I enjoyed the additional controls I now had over the outcome of the photography. I enjoyed this camera and it was fun to continue to learn on. However, at the end of college I was finally able to get the elusive DSLR (D for digital). I took that thing all over my hometown of Springfield, IL until I photographed every thing I could think of and hit a creative block. I wanted to shoot different things and to show them in a creative light.

While I had this DSLR I had moved to Chicago which unlocked a whole new world of photography! (Photography is not what took me to Chicago by the way). There is so much to see and photograph in that city it's not even funny. This is where I learned about street photography and photographing strangers. It takes a little bit of courage to get used to it, but I got comfortable taking pictures of people I don't know. I got lucky and never had people become agressive and ask what I was doing. That could also be in part that I would take their picture and then act like a tourist and look at a building behind them. There are all sorts of tactics for taking a strangers photo.

After my one and a half year mistake stay in Chicago and struggling financially, I moved to the wonderful and great state of Kentucky to make it on my own live with my parents! I was deeply in love with street photography at that time and I genuinely had anxiety about not being able to shoot street in Kentucky like I did in Chicago. There weren't people walking around like they did in Chicago and almost everyone was in a car. I had to find a new passion type of photography and learn to enjoy it.

After my pity party, I got into nature photography. When I first got to Kentucky we lived in the country and near Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill (highly recommended). I had plenty of opportunity to shoot nature and landscapes in this location. I was only working part-time, so I had a whole bunch of time to spend behind the camera. I enjoyed this for a while and still do take nature photos occasionally. Being in nature is almost theraputic.

While in Kentucky I met my super-awesome-amazing wife Amanda. Photography became less and less important in my life. However, since our son has been born, photography has become more important again! I want to document his life and our time together as a family. I want him to be able to look back at these photos of his childhood and recall memories like we all did in the film and print days. I still love being behind the camera and I could shoot all day. It's easy for me to lose track of time with a camera in my hand.

Nearly everyone has a camera in their pocket now, but fewer photos are actually being printed. I want everyone to have a quality family portrait in their home. I want kids to remember things from their childhood, and for families to remember exciting times in their life. For me, photography is about telling a story. Telling the story of families one shutter click at a time.