Half-A-Lifetime taking pictures

It's official. I recently to turned 50 and I was 25 when I got my A.S. degree in photography from Daytona Beach Community College. I've been making a living in photography ever since then, so then next time I think "Damn, it seems like I spend half my life lugging these cameras around", I actually have spent half my life lugging these cameras around. Well, not these particular cameras, but cameras in general.

In fact, the cameras I use today were science fiction fantasy when I started my career. Many other things have changed since I earned my first dollar taking pictures:

To start with, back in the day, we had to carry around a large supply of film and fumble with the camera after every 36 exposures whether it was freezing cold out, pouring rain, blowing dust or whatever. Today we can shoot hundreds or even thousands of pictures without opening the camera, depending on the photo resolution and memory card size.

In the old days when the shooting was done, you usually found yourself elbow deep in chemicals, breathing fixer, fumbling in the dark to actually see the results of your efforts. Nowadays the day ends hunched over a laptop computer with cramping hands as you try to stay a step ahead of editors and clients anxiously awaiting your photos. If you want to see any particular photograph, just glance at the back of your camera seconds after you've taken it.

Years ago we'd be frantically twisting the focus ring on our lens back and forth trying to keep a moving subject in focus, while today we are often just as frantically mashing a button on our camera and cursing the autofocus system for being too slow.

If you are familiar with wire service work you might remember the days when sending a photo over the wire was similar to a kindergarten art class project involving scissors, tape, and glue. You'd "soup" your film, make a print, bang out a caption on a Brother typewriter, paste it to the print and clamp the whole creation to a revolving drum transmitter to send the print over phone lines a picture desk, usually in Washington or New York. An adept photographer today could send a hundred fresh photos via e-mail or FTP in the time it took us to send one picture years ago.

I remember thinking that when the digital age arrived, our lives would get easier, but that hasn't been the case. Editors and clients today want more pictures and they want them faster. As technology advances, so does our work load, but, as I like to remind myself, there are worse ways to make a living.

Anyway, those are just a few of my memories from the "old days" (which weren't really that long ago) and I welcome and look forward to hearing any of yours!


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