Learning Photography at a Young Age
|Photo by Elizabeth Grimsley|
|One of Roberts first photographs taken at around the age of 13.|
Dan Rinkel- Well it was 1958 when sitting on the mill porch painting a picture of the mill pond, a man who had taken the tour of the 1846 historic mill came out and sat by me at 6 years old, and told me how to see the colors. When he was leaving, he told me he was Norman Rockwell and he would be seeing me again and to keep making pictures. He did keep coming around when he was in the area, always checking to see how my painting was progressing.
Then at age 8, a man and his wife came to stay with my great grandmother. Now this man really changed my life forever! He let me carry his camera around as he took pictures of historic Greenfield Mills and the river. He told me that one day when I was ready to really take great pictures I would own a camera like his. The thing I remember most was sitting in my great grandmothers dark bathroom as he explained how he was processing his film and then set up a contact printer and I got to see my first 6x6 contact sheet. Wow, was I hooked! That man happened to be Ansel Adams.
Now all through my school years I was selling oil paintings to tourists using the money to buy camera equipment. I had my first Bessler 4x5 enlarger set up in 1962 at the age of 10, which I used to print my negatives shot with my Nikon F. The best camera I owned as a teen was my Calumet 4x5 though. Everything finally looked correct with it. By high school, I was also selling photographs of cars and taking up as much time as the school would let me in their darkroom, which was never enough, but I did have my own set-up at home also. I took every art course available and was active in the art club. Got a job working weddings on weekends for a studio in Michigan. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had already gotten a scholarship to study fashion photography in Atlanta based on my art talent, and the rest is history.
|Photo by Regan Conroy|
Jenn Fletcher- (Hi, that's me, your KEH Blog editor) I started taking pictures when I was pretty young with a point and shoot. Then in middle school, one of my teachers decided to have a "photo class" during our Home Room, which got me really interested in learning more. As soon as I got to high school, I enrolled in a real photography class. I purchased my own Pentax K1000, and continued to take photo classes for every available elective. Luckily, I went to an arts magnet school, so there were plenty of classes available during my four years there.
I was completely hooked and dove head first into all of the photo activities I could possibly fit into my life. I started working for the "teen page" at our local newspaper. I was so actively involved in the newspaper stuff, that I was lucky enough to be able to go to conferences (and speak at one), and was entered into high school photography press competitions (and won!) by my editor. After a few years of that, and during my senior year in high school, I arranged to intern in the photo department at the newspaper as one of my electives. This was a wonderful experience for me, especially for being so young. I entered tons of call for entries for group shows, and ended up exhibiting five times before even graduating from high school, including a youth show that was exhibited alongside Lauren Greenfield. By the time I got to college, I had also been published in print numerous times, won national awards, and was even interviewed by a TV network for a special on youth photographers.
|One of my earliest photos from sometime in the early high school years. Photo by Jenn (Alexander).|
It still amazes me at how much I did at such a young age. I had the programs in my area, I just had to search for them (ok, and my parents totally helped me with that and always had suggestions for things). I had the drive and spent my extra time and energy doing everything I could to get more involved in photography. And of course, I had a huge amount of support from my family, friends, teachers, and mentors.
So, what's my advice for young photographers? Surround yourself with what you love, keep at it, find good people in the field that will help you and mentor you, take classes, get involved in clubs or activities that are related, and make sure that you have people who support and encourage you in what you do. As far as adults go- you need to be the ones to support and encourage these young artists. While they may or may not choose to go into a filed like this as a career, they are building many other important skills along the way and finding outlets to express themselves at most likely, a rough time (c'mon, do you remember your preteen and teen years?!). I for one, in addition to learning about photography, learned many life skills in the process such as responsibility, organization, public speaking, writing, problem solving, etc.etc.... and, finding a passion for a child or teen could change things around in other areas of their lives. Photography pulled me out of a teen angsty 'I want to drop out of school' funk and made me work harder and be more focused than ever.
We're doubling up on our posts today and have another one coming to you shortly. Stay tuned...