Introduction: How I Came to Be a Photographer...


2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006
2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

Retrospect on the Millennium: or, How Social Media in the Internet Age Revolutionized the Medium and Methodology of Photography in Ten Years...   


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Dedicated to Tobey Hancock, who first loaned me a digital camera.

Introduction: How I Came to Be a Photographer

The purpose of this project is to display one image for each month of the first decade (or so) of my personal photography. To some extent, it demonstrates my growth in the medium. On the other hand, I have deliberately chosen certain images, not for their strict technical merit, but because of what they evoke for me personally. So it is an unverbalized account of sorts, and implied memoir which I invite you to infer and adapt as you see fit. 

I have made a controlled decision to omit any of my professional portraiture from this collection. Though in one sense it was my field of focus, my work in weddings and engagements never drove my passion for the medium in the way these more commonplace images did, and still do. As well, I believe my portraiture should be evaluated separately. 


2002 — AGE 18

I acknowledge the many deficiencies of these early images. Some of those shown are among the first hundred (or even ten) that I shot. Arguably, it would be more pleasing for the viewer to begin at the latest work. But the point of my project is to follow development in taste and skill, and my moves during this time. 


California Dorm, CCBC

This was one of the first images I ever made on a digital camera, or any camera for that matter. There is nothing particularly striking about the corner of this building, I know, yet I vividly recall the feeling which struck me upon seeing, as if for the first time, these colors, shadows, and lines.

There is a straightforward magic to photography, unlike any other artform, in that somehow, simply drawing a box around something perfectly ordinary can reveal its beauty. Simply by excluding most of the scene, the novice can craft a satisfying image. From here, at this level of nearly accidental artistry, we are able to develop our aesthetic in ever-more intentional directions. Still, we should learn the lesson.

Often, artistic inspiration does not come from widening our vista, as we might expect, but in limiting our scope to behold the ever present grandeur of this world. The medium of photography is particularly suited to this end.

For the time, this degree of resolution in a macro image astounded me. Rather than drawing my attention to the technology, I found myself transported to a fresh appreciation of natural wonders.

Oceanside, CA

I remain impressed at the native ability of the CCD sensor in the Sony F-717 camera to render well-exposed and dynamic scenes. What the camera lacked in resolution, it accounted for in pleasing rendition.

Above Left: Probably the first monochrome image which I felt proud of.

Above Right: One of my first attempts at an environmental portrait, with my childhood friend, Lacey.

2003 — Age 19

Half of this year I lived in Newcastle, Australia. Another three months were spent on Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles. All the while, I toted my Sony F-717. On one occasion, I was asked to photograph an absurdly vain young man who requested modeling shots. Standing waist-deep and focused on the dim electronic viewfinder, I was overtaken by a wave. The entire camera was soaked, and my feelings were sunk to the sea floor—that device was by far my most valuable possession, in more ways than one, and I was certain it was ruined.

For a few dollars, I purchased a small screw driver set from a nearby general store, laid out a towel on which to perform the surgery, and set to work disassembling the camera. My hope was to remove as much salt water as possible. The process took two hours and afterward the camera always rattled, but you can imagine my joy when the Sony logo glowed to life on the screen. I got another six months out of the camera with only minor issues, before giving it to a friend.

The days of the F-717 were numbered, salt bath or not. During my last trip to Catalina, I laid eyes on the brand new Canon 10D—a marvel for its time. A flush of insecurity came over me, familiar to all  photographers, when one realizes that “professionals” use detachable lenses. However serviceable, my all-in-one was demoted to a gizmo. It is tragic that we often see technology this way. The F-717 was a real gem.

Matt captured this shark just off the coast. Its nervous system was still reacting, so that its jaws would snap shut whenever we put a wooden spoon inside. There is nothing technically impressive about this image. Yet the aphorism rings true, making images that capture the attention is as much about seeing something inherently fascinating and getting a little closer, than about the artistic angle you might put on it.

Retrospect on the Digital Millennium