I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley situated in the heart of California. It is an immense agricultural region. Centrally located, one can head in any direction of the compass and within two to three hours enjoy the ocean breezes in Carmel, go hiking in Yosemite National Park, become a child again at Disneyland… you get the idea. With the Valley’s very hot summers with temperatures soaring well over 100 degrees for days sometimes weeks, the short jaunts to cooler climates was always a welcome reprieve. For me, the San Joaquin Valley was and is the “gateway to everywhere else”.
On a positive note, our family owned a cabin at Meadow Lakes, between Auberry and Shaver Lake, elevation 4,450 feet. Once school let out for the summer that is where you would find us escaping to those cooler temperatures. One of our other favorite destinations was Ducey’s Lodge located above Shaver Lake near Dinky Creek. The Lodge showed outdoor movies. I have fond memories of sitting under the stars and watching a lot of Disney flicks. During the day we would wear the rear end of our jeans threadbare sliding down the huge slippery rocks in Dinky Creek.
So, from an early age I was exposed to the great outdoors and my love of nature has stayed with me my whole life. There were numerous trips to Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park and the Northern California Redwood Forest. Some of the oldest and tallest living trees on earth just a few hours away!
I was eager to capture all the beauty that surrounded us, so during my teens I got my first Kodak Instamatic camera and a “shutter bug” was born. Later on I graduated to a 35mm Pentax. (Thirty-five years later I still have that old friend.) Then the digital age arrived and I got my first “point and shoot”.
I married and escaped to Tacoma, Washington, for work and college. After a few years, regrettably circumstances took me back to the San Joaquin Valley requiring that I be near family again. Still, I knew there would be a day when I would return and make Washington my home again. What I didn’t foresee was a career in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, which took off and flourished over the next 30 years! To say I was a workaholic doesn’t even begin to describe it, but over the years I did manage to squeeze in trips to numerous cities in Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, Mexico, Canada and about 15 American states, with camera in tow. Yet, there was always something missing coming back to California…I was not in a happy place. My thoughts would always return to the State of Washington. I kept saying to myself…”one day”.
My twin sister and her son moved to Mount Vernon, Washington, located about an hour north of Seattle. On my first visit I immediately fell in love with the city and the entire Skagit Valley. I felt a real sense of coming home. The area is stunningly beautiful and the people are warm and welcoming. One of the huge attractions is in early spring when the nearby fields are filled with daffodils as far as the eye can see then followed by the annual Tulip Festival, which occurs during the entire month of April. There are acres and acres of them in a color explosion. A photographer’s dream. Then there are the North Cascades mountain range nearby with their dramatic mountain peaks dubbed the “American Alps” and rightly so.
On each visit to the Skagit Valley, returning to California got more difficult. To my astonishment, my employer agreed that I could commute back and forth from Washington and California and it worked out great! This went on for eight years, but it became too much (at times I was racing to catch a flight every two weeks), so I made the decision to retire early and I must say I’m good at it.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would devote this next chapter of my life to my passion for photography. I acquired a more serious digital camera with all the accessories, read everything I could on digital photography, joined clubs, subscribed to travel magazines, took numerous classes, workshops and field trips…and I’m still learning. It hasn’t been easy. There is a lot more to taking professional photographs than I ever imagined and sometimes it has been frustrating, but so far it has been a wonderful journey.
There have been many people that have guided me along my photographic journey. For all of you just starting out on your own photographic journey, let me offer some suggestions. If you feel intimidated by other photographers, don’t. Let’s face it, there are scores of gifted and talented ones all over the world. So what? Regardless if you just want to learn skills to improve your images or if you want to become a professional, always remember that the “pros” all started out just like you. If you seek their advice and expertise and they are impatient or make you feel inferior or inadequate because of your age, physical limitations or the “equipment” you use, don’t get discouraged. Move on to those instructors who are compassionate, non-judgmental and love to share. You’ll learn that each of them has their own style and it may not be yours. That’s okay. I suggest you learn the basics from as many sources as you can and then develop your own style. (See my page on interesting links to help you on your journey). Believe me, if you ask 5 professional photographers how they would approach a photograph, you’ll get 5 different answers. FOCUS (sorry) on what you are passionate about and find your niche.
“Every artist was first an amateur.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thank you for visiting my website. I hope you enjoy my images and that you tell others. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best to you,
Mount Vernon, Washington