When I was in elementary school, I had a friend who could draw. Every morning on the bus, he would pull his sketch pad out of his back pack and show me his latest drawing of Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo, or some other popular character of the time. I was amazed at how good these drawings were. I would look over every inch of the page, taking in the intricate detail, the nearly perfect perspective and proportions. I always thanked him for sharing these with me, but if I were to be honest what (hopefully) came across as admiration was really jealousy.
Inspired by my friend’s talent I would pull out my own sketch pad and create drawings of my own. No matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn't match his level of artistry. I drew characters with one eye bigger than the other, or a backwards hand with the thumb on the wrong side.
This was terribly frustrating to me because even at a young age I felt an undeniable urge to create. Not just to create, but to create something beautiful, something compelling, something that would catch another person's attention and move them in some way.
After several years of trying and failing to draw or paint I discovered music. I showed much more promise in that area. In fact, I was quite a good musician. I claimed the first chair for saxophone in both concert band, and the much more competitive jazz band in high school, and quickly picked up the guitar as well.. In fact, it was probably the only reason I had any kind of social life at all in high school!
I loved music back then, and I still do, but it just wasn't quite what I was looking for. You see, I'm a bit of an introvert (I thought this blog, and the YouTube channel, and the Facebook page would have given that away, lol), and what I really wanted, what my very soul had been searching for all those years, was a creative outlet that would allow me to skillfully express myself, and that I could pursue in SOLITUDE.
I could draw or paint by myself, but I sucked at it.
I was much more skilled in music, but the best music is made in collaboration with others.
For a while I was kind of lost. Then I remembered my father's 35mm camera.
Taking photographs was the only artistic thing I have ever seen my father do. He was no Ansel Adams, but make no mistake, he was artistic about it. He wasn't just firing off thoughtless shapshots. He would direct the family for portraits. He would think about his composition, applying the rule of thirds even though I'm pretty sure he had never even heard anyone talk about the rule of thirds. He just did it naturally. And to see the pragmatic son of a Pennsylvania coal miner who made a living chasing a chain in a General Motors assembly plant show that degree of artistic expression, made a big impact on me.
I knew dad wouldn't just give me his camera, but I figured if I bought my own camera body, and kept up my own supply of film, I could probably borrow his lenses and accessories, so I saved my money and bought a Pentax K1000. Sure enough, dad was happy to let me borrow his lenses and I began the hobby that would see me through love, loss, a cross country move to a place where I had no friends, career changes, marriage(s), birth, death, heartache, and joy.
And that brings us to the genesis of Southern Exposure. The hobby of photography has given so much to me. It only seems right that I find a way to give a little back. Through this website and my YouTube channel I will share not only my knowledge, but my experiences as well. I think it's great that there are so many talented photographers and videographers putting content online for others to learn from. It not only helps individuals, but it helps the community as a whole. I am grateful to people like Peter Mckinnon, Gerald Undone, Tony and Chelsea, and many others. Not only have I learned technical skills from them, but have also been inspired to share what I know.
What will differentiate me from them however is the fact I am, and intend to remain, a hobbyist. Who knows what the future will hold, but I have no plans to leave my day job and start shooting weddings, events, corporate headshots, etc. I may begin offering prints for sale if there is some demand, if only as a means to finance my hobby, but the sole aim of my photography is personal gratification. In turn, the sole aim of my internet presence is to try and help others achieve that kind of success.
I want you to be able to go out, take pictures, and have fun doing it.