Blog #3: How I Found Photography

I'm always asked "How did you get started with photography?"  That's easy - Gordon Parks.

I first picked up a professional camera during my Junior year in my elective Photography class. I loved everything about the process. We’d take cameras home, try to construct some cool, thought-provoking images while navigating through our messy teenager lives. Next was taking that film – YES I started out with FILM cameras – into the darkroom and developing our assignments using the awful-smelling chemicals whose name I can no longer remember. Once the image had dried and was complete you’d have a sense of pride knowing that you took that photo and the process that went into this final product. Fast forward a couple years and I’m attending school at Fort Scott Community College on a football scholarship. In this rural town I learned about Gordon Parks.

The Legend, Gordon Parks was a famed photographer, author, director, screenwriter and composer. What immediately drew my interest was learning that he directed the movie Shaft. In a town where our football and basketball teams made up the majority of black people living there, I was shocked to know that movie had ties. I began to research just to learn more about his photography his life story. I was moved by how he used his camera and how powerful his images were. What's even stranger than the Fort Scott "connection" is that our birthdays are just days apart and I dabbled in making music and have written a couple of books as well. No where near his level of excellence but our parallel paths are uncanny.

Jump to my Junior year of college and I took a digital photography course. Another class that I loved. Funny to look back at that class now. There was nothing technical about it at all because digital cameras were so new at the time. From there I purchased a couple “point-and-shoot” cameras just to have for events, vacations, etc. Eventually, several years later, I finally purchased a real DSLR camera.

Currently I’m working on a project entitled, “Half Past Summer” a nod to Gordon Parks’ book and documentary “Half Past Autumn”. I’m “remixing” some of his most iconic pictures and plan to sell the book with proceeds going to the Gordon Parks Foundation. The images you see are just a few of the ones I’ve taken so far. I have posted a few more here in my Current Projects section. Stay tuned for the book’s release!

- DR

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