My interest in photography began at the very early age of nine, I received a camera for my birthday. My fascination with photography hit me after receiving that first roll of developed film from the processor. Every frame was either out of focus, improperly exposed, or the composition was just whack! But. I was hooked.
That first batch of B&W prints from the roll of 120 (fill in the blank) film were the worst I have ever seen to date. I knew I could do better, I just needed to study and experiment, again and again, until I can produce the quality of imagery with which I am satisfied. Thirty-eight years later I find that my point of satisfaction is always several steps ahead of my skills, I am continually pushing myself to do better, learn more, experiment, and attain higher standards.
In 1987 I started working as Key Assistant for Parks Photography in Chicago. Jim Parks was the owner/photographer. I had been purchasing his books with my allowance money since my preteen years, and now I was his Key Assistant. The pride, and glory, of that prestigious title faded very quickly. Mr. Parks expected me to practically read his mind. Jim Parks reworked every technical aspect I had ever learned about photography. Every creative lighting idea I ever had before that time now appeared to me as that borne of an unknowledgeable child. Every concept I had regarding composition was made to look ridiculous. Never in my 19 years had I felt so unprepared, unskilled, lacking knowledge, and unable to READ his mind. That is what a photographer expects of his apprentice, right? Even if that is not the standard it IS what Jim Parks expected from me, absolute perfection. And I hated every exhausting second of it, at least at the time. Of course I was never able to actually achieve perfection, But I learned how to truly strive for it without disappointment at the end results. Just try harder next time…
Now, I would not trade that experience for anything.