I've always liked photography, ever since my dad let me use his camera for the first time when I was six (I've still got the photo at the bottom here. It's terrible). But since he never let me touch his SLR I was stuck using cheap pocket and disposable cameras, and those don't exactly encourage much in the way of experimentation. Plus, film was expensive for a kid. So I didn't really get the chance to experiment with photography until I was in high school. I grew up near Rochester, New York, which those in the know will recognize as the headquarters of Kodak (where my dad worked). For those not in the know, Kodak was at one time the biggest film company in the world. For those even less in the know, film is the incredibly inefficient chemical-treated plastic thing that people used to record still images before computers came along. There were a lot of amateur photography opportunities there. My dad finally entrusted me with his SLR (an awesomely outdated manual focusing Canon AE-1 that I was extremely fond of) and I went out experimenting everywhere. I favored black and white photos because that meant I could develop them myself and get them looking exactly the way I wanted. I had a lot of fun with the whole process. I was of an age where digital cameras were just starting to replace traditional ones, but I'm glad I spent my developing years using film. It taught me a lot of good techniques (many of which I've gotten lax in) and the massive delays at all stages in the process (winding the film, reloading, developing the negatives, printing) made me more disciplined as a photographer.


Perhaps because I loved film so much I was a late adopter of digital photography. I only got my first digital in 2010, when I went to spend a year in England. It was a crummy little Fuji JZ300, with horrible color depth, awful ISO grain at even moderately low lighting, and a screen that bred dead pixels like curiously rectangular bunnies. But it was easy to use and I could carry it around in my pocket. That was all that mattered at the time. And for all my whining about it now, I got some really good pictures out of that thing. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of digital photography. No longer restricted to just 24 or 36 photos at a time (I quickly learned to carry spare batteries) I was finally able to get all the photos I wanted. I could even be wasteful and take ones I was pretty sure wouldn't come out. When they actually do come out, they tend to be among my best work.


So ever since then I've been working at expanding my photo library. Travel photography's my main interest. I study the Romans for a living so any sort of Classical site is of interest to me and I particularly enjoy documenting the obscure ones that nobody visits. My focus is late Roman so I've got a passion for Anglo-Saxon and Byzantine sites as well. But I also have an appreciation for more modern places. Medieval and renaissance architecture is amazing (I'm particularly fond of cathedrals) and operating out of Europe gives me a perfect opportunity to visit them. I have a passion for landscape photography too, although not having a car hampers my ability to do as much of it as I did in the States. Night photography is also an interest. Pretty much any sort of photography is fine with me really, apart from portraiture, which I never enjoyed. That's possibly because it reminds me of the family snaps my mother always forced me to take or possibly because I just don't like bossing people around. I consider my photography more documentation than art (I geotag everything), so while I do try for creative shots sometimes, most of my work is very traditional and unobtrusive. I judge success by how well I capture the beauty or historical value inherent in the object rather than how unique my shot is. Nothing wrong with doing things that way, it's just how I prefer it.


I've upgraded my camera too, first to a Fujifilm Finepix HS30EXR bridge camera (which was probably a mistake) and then to a Sony A77, which was my first proper DSLR. I'm a little embarrassed it took me this long actually. While I do believe that only a bad photographer blames his equipment, my photos have improved immeasurably since I upgraded and I now find a lot of my earlier work unbearably soft. The downside of only looking at them on a low resolution laptop screen was that I didn't notice. My current camera is a full-frame mirrorless Sony A7, which I love even more than the A77. Sharp as a tack and great in low lighting. I’ve left Europe now and returned to the US, but I intend to continue traveling and taking photos of the most beautiful places in the world. Everyone should do what they love.

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