I love school. I love it so much in fact I have spent 42 years of my life in school and another 6 supporting schools so far. Basically, I was 4 the last time a whole year went by and I was not in school. When I was a babysitter, I even used to hold school. Parents loved me. Actually, the kids did too because I made learning fun. When I was a kid, my dad worked for a publishing company in the college division. He had so many books! Art history, Spanish, anthologies, calculus, anatomy…. it was all so fascinating to me. I was voracious. I did not care how many times I had to look a word up in the dictionary, I just had to know they all meant. I mean what was a synapse or alliteration? I had to know. I could not pronounce anti-differentiation but I sure wanted to know how to do it someday. Not too much was off limits where learning and literature were concerned. I read Thomas Wolfe’s The Child by Tiger long, long before I fully understood racism. To this day, I can feel the pulse of Sandburg’s Chicago in 1916 and see the heavy-handed, barrel-chested men eking out a life proud, sweating, and fierce. I wanted so much to understand how different languages worked and how anyone ever understood anyone else ‘in the old days’. Suffice it to say, I loved learning and I still do.
It was not just the learning though. I loved the order and structure of school (which was lucky because nuns loved order and structure). Frankly, chaos exhausted me and I have always had a natural inclination to make sense out of chaos. My eyes would dart around as I tried to mentally catalog ideas, movements and comments and put them all into an intricately connected web in my head where it all made sense. Back then school was about right answers, solving problems and rising to challenges. Those were three of my best things. I was good at it. I have the report cards to prove it. I also have a brain full of obscure information- like the names of the twelve cranial nerves. Of course, when I first was a student, people did not have such easy access to information so a brain full of obscure information was highly prized. Back then, I did not have an iPhone, iPad, and desktop computer where I could look up the twelve cranial nerves and their anatomy and physiology. (Did they even know about cranial nerves in the 60’s?) Back then, I had the Shoreline Library where I could access the encyclopedia and any books they kept at that branch of the library. So much has changed. I could probably Google how to perform surgery on the 12 cranial nerves and find 12 YouTube videos showing it in graphic detail.
My love of learning and my tenacity in making sense of the world has come in very handy in this journey. There is so much to learn about photography. Sometimes I feel like I will never learn it all. Maybe that is so. Part of the challenge is to conquer the device and the elements or at least tame them enough to get the shot. I am naturally inclined to accept a challenge enthusiastically. So, I read voraciously. I pick up books whenever I can on the technical aspects of photography as well as the artistic elements. Currently, I am reading Gregory Heisler 50 Portraits (Amphoto Books) to learn more about how he approached his subjects and managed to bring out the depths of their personalities in a single photograph. For the more technical aspects, I like Bryan Peterson’s books. There are great online resources as well. I’ve learned so much from other bloggers and photography websites. I turn to Agrandaiz Ramana Harahap who writes a great blog outlining skills and processes so clearly. I learned to take risks and experiment from Ed Lehming’s work whose series “Shift to Shiver” is captivating (I Turn to Rust is my favorite). I could go on and on. So much to learn, so little time. In fact, I gauge my passion by just how interested I am in learning more and how much effort I am willing to put into figuring it all out. Personally, I hope I never stop learning.