My photography goals and ambitions, and in a real sense my results are attributable to a handful of men and women. Let me recount them and give you an idea what I have learned from each of them.
My Father. Growing up with a darkroom in the basement inclines one toward photography! The strong early influence of developer and fixer remains in the blood long after leaving home. My father also instilled in me a deep reverence for the Washington Redskins whom I follow as I can from the other side of the country. Of course my father was the first one to receive a large framed copy of my award winning shot.
My Wife. Many years ago we went on a trip of a lifetime to Greece and each evening we sat down to look at the images we had captured throughout the day. My wife has an eye for the beautiful and interesting that I’m still hoping to acquire. Indeed, I just got word that one of my wife’s images has been selected for inclusion in a calendar to be sold at US National Parks! She has also relentlessly and tirelessly supported me when I have been gone nights and weekends… and she seems to really like what I do. In fact early on she gifted me with a week long Eastern Sierras photo expedition from Kip Evans.
Kip Evans. Kip’s fantastic photos of the California Coast and wildlife had inspired us. Under Kip’s guidance, the wonders of California and my hunger for photography reignited with a vengeance. Kip taught me many things, including composition and quite a bit about photography as a business. Kip is a friend and mentor, too. And it didn’t hurt that Kip’s love of the outdoors reminded me how much I love the solitude of mountaintops.
Leonard Brezinski – a colleague and co-worker who as a “brother of the lens” challenged me on composition and framing. Many hours were spent in front of the computer monitor with Leonard making proposals for cropping and framing and processing of my early work. Leonard challenged me to think and photograph more purposefully, to eliminate the extraneous and focus on the subject matter.
Harold Davis. I learned about Harold when Leonard and I visited Point Reyes Lighthouse. The ranger at Point Reyes told us of Harold’s photography. I had already begun reconnecting to my astronomy roots when I found Harold’s Edge of Night photograph. A Night Photography workshop at Point Reyes under Harold’s tutelage cemented my focus on night photography in particular. Harold as my friend and mentor has been a constant source of encouragement and sage advice even in matters that extend beyond photography. Harold proposed that we work together in teaching Night Photography – he with a Nikon and Mac, me with a Canon and PC. He as an artist with strong creative vision, me as a scientist bent on perfecting photography and shot planning. It’s worked very well. I feel we’re the “Yin and Yang” of Low Light photography. And that’s how “Star Circle Academy” was born.
These are the top five, and, of course there are many others. Eric Harness, for example, taught me panoramic photography which has broadened my creative ability considerably. Not surprisingly, Eric is also a staff member at Star Circle Academy.
Who is your photography mentor? What did you learn from him or her?