By: Noah Katsma
There is nothing more embarrassing than nearly failing a college elective course in photography 101. I was not even sure what encouraged me to take a course in film photography; I had never used a Single-Lens Reflex Camera (SLR) in my life. Sure, I remember back in the day when I would occasionally use my parents old SLR and try to take blurry pictures of random animals at the zoo, but that was the extent of my experience. Still, I decided to sign up for the class using my parents’ 20-year-old SLR that I would play around with as a child.
I had no idea that I would be processing the film myself. I was completely unaware that I would be splashing dangerous chemicals in a very dark room to bring life to the photos I took, and it did not help that my class was being taught by a last minute adjunct “professor” who entertained the idea he was teaching us just so he could collect his paycheck. And to top it all off, I did not realize my camera’s light meter was broken until the semester was nearly over. It was plainly an awful experience overall.
I remember classmates destroying their film rolls repeatedly in attempts to process their images. I can clearly recall the screams of frustration in the dark room as my peers and I threw away one failed enlargement after another. And if we did manage to miraculously create a finished image, our lackluster professor judged us extremely harshly on our composition and flaws. If it had not been for the camaraderie and support that my classmates and I had for one another, I am certain we would have all been given failing grades. But because we all worked together and shared our lessons learned from trial and error, we were able to help one another, even if that meant staying into the early morning bearing one another’s burdens when things were not going right.
That was the beginning of my journey into photography. I could have come out of that class with a bad taste for photography, but somehow that experience had awakened an interest in me. Even though it was not very much fun, it was probably the best experience I could have encountered. It taught me how to experiment, explore, and teach myself the many different techniques and styles that photography has to offer.
Over the years I have put a couple hundred thousand actuations on my cameras while learning new and exciting techniques. I love exploring the world of photography, as there are so many facets and niches available to learn. I pride myself on being able to capture the story and emotions that one photograph can offer. I also enjoy being well versed in the technical aspect of photography that I have taught myself over the years.
These photos show some of the diverse skills I have learned over the past seven years. Some of these images show off lighting and composition styles, while others focus on interesting editing techniques. All the images, however, have interesting stories and reasons behind their creation. Lucky enough for me I persevered through my difficult beginnings and worked hard to learn how to capture all of the beauty the world offers.