I was about 10 years old when I discovered my fathers Kodak Instamatic 500 camera, it was in a closet and he hadn’t used it for some time. I was amazed with the camera, as I was with anything that had all kinds of interesting dials and settings.. He purchased the camera when he went into the Military in the 60s, he took it with him throughout bootcamp in the Air Force and when he was stationed in Texas. I asked him if I could use it, but didnt know what to do with the settings and he explained to me how it worked and then ended with : “Keep the aperture setting at 5.6 and the speed at 125 during the day and you should be ok….
I promptly took the camera and ran off to my favorite place,
the railroad tracks and below is the first photo I ever took; F5.6 at 125 of an Amtrak Turboliner.. I took so many pictures that day, I am a little disappointed these days that this is the only photo I have left, however, I am happy to have my first!
From that day forward, I carried that camera everywhere I went, the problem was that film and developing wasn’t cheap and coming home with a roll of film that needed to be developed on a daily basis made my dad wonder if he had created a monster! I guess it was somewhat of a whim, more than likely, it was the cost of film that slowed me down… It wasn’t until high school that I picked up a camera again, acting as the school photographer and learning on my own how to develop both black and white and color film, I spent many hours tucked away in the photo lab.
I loved to take black and white photos as I do today, however, night photography seemed to really interest me. I would go out with a friend and we would take long exposure shots at the lakefront and throughout the city. I have yet to locate those….
After high school, strangely enough, I put down the camera, it is somewhat crazy because I moved to western Colorado, quite possibly the most picturesque places on the planet! None-the-less it wouldn’t be until the early 2006 that I would pick up a camera again.
it was 2006, I was rummaging through my house and found a Rebel XT which I purchased for my wife, I tried to explain the usage many times, but, she didnt seem to like the functionality of a DSLR, so, I decided I would take it with me wherever I went. I received a free account at the time to Flickr.com and I decided to start uploading the images I created to the site. I would go through the photos and met a lot of people who shared the same interest. I came across a guy, “Chocolate Milk” (now Fading Nostalgia) who was shooting night photography in an abandoned building which I was poking around at the time and it fascinated me. I sent him a message and we arranged to meet at this derelict building in Milwaukee, Solvay Coke and Gas, an abandoned Gas company in Milwaukee.
It was a strange meeting and quite peculiar when you meet someone in the middle of the night at an old abandoned building.. Some people would balk at the meet, however, I was very interested. We spoke for some time, this was his 2nd season “Light painting” and he was willing to show me the ropes, being somewhat knowledgeable of photography and somewhat stubborn, I elected to go out on my own,
looking out the corner of my eye observing his process.. I elected to try a shot, which can be seen below.. a mess. After looking into my LCD and seeing what a catastrophe I created, I swallowed my pride and asked for help, he gave me a few great hints and I was off and on my way…
The rest of the night and the rest of the following couple of years, were filled with long nights, sometimes, no sleep and long drives to abandoned places throughout the state. I like to believe that I adopted my own style and most people who know my stuff seem to believe the same. I certainly do owe Mr. Chocolate Milk for helping me out along the way.
Over the years, I have tried many different things, techniques and I have been to many places throughout the Midwest. I met someone who I exclusively have been shooting with for the past 3 years and I believe that I have learned as much from her as she has from me! We seem to share the same interest in history and share the same feelings about our great city, we have a way of complimenting each other that runs short of words to describe. I have surpassed anything I ever imagined in those 3 years and I look forward to many more to come. Together, we have traveled to many more places and have combed the City of Milwaukee, from top to bottom, I can easily say these days that there are very few places we have not been.
Photography is a journey, for me, it is way to interpret and see the past as well as a means for me to interpret the present.