When my family went on vacation my mother would always hand me the camera and tell me to photograph the rooms. Whether it was a hotel or condo it was my job to document the space in its entirety. This included the kitchen, the bathroom, and naturally the view from the window or balcony. I never really understood why it was so important but obeyed. As I look back I can finally appreciate this routine as it taught me to document the whole scene which in turn played upon my love of architecture, symmetry, angles, and perspective. I can honestly say that this was great practice for me and what I love to do when first getting on-site for a new event, document the space, and always trying to avoid being in the reflections of the mirrors. Consequently, I did photograph a lot of spaces and for some reason also notice that there were not a lot of family photos.
In my eighth-grade year, I participated in the yearbook which I absolutely loved. Being encouraged to photograph the school, events, and the people. In addition, I further discovered my love of design and use of negative space laying out the pages I was assigned to create back in the days before computers on graph paper. I did however realize pretty quickly that the writing portion was not my strong suit. It turns out that in addition to the images I needed for the sections I was also fortunate to have been chosen to provide the cover image. So I guess you can say I was "published" back in junior high. In addition to that elective, I also chose to do a photography-inspired science fair project. I actually did a side-by-side comparison between Kodak and Fuji films. Yes, I was and will always have the inner geek side to me. At that time I had a few friends in high school and loved seeing the black and white images that they had taken, developed, and printed. The obsession had certainly begun.
In high school, I got involved in the photography classes being offered. It was not Photojournalism which was for newspaper or yearbook, yet more a fine art class. We were taught the basics of art and how the different styles of art influenced and led to the creation of photography. I can remember building an 8x10 pinhole camera and still have the image I took with it. I loved challenges and was drawn towards textures and shapes and abstractions. One of my friends and I would go out at night and challenge each other to get the best images. It created a great rivalry and pushed me to explore and experiment. I purchased a tripod and we would head out during a full moon and find things to photograph. At age 14 I was learning about timed exposures and reciprocity and often had 15-30 second exposures of various subjects. I had learned about a photo contest and submitted a few images for consideration. Turns out I ended up placing first and second place in the Houston Chronicle contest and was being awarded actual money. Wait, I can actually make money at this? Well, it turns out I did get a check and immediately invested that money into building my own darkroom including an enlarger, trays, and chemicals so that I was not limited to just the single class period to be able to make prints. I loved the entire process of photography so much that I ended up taking it for three years. The two images are below for reference.