Who Are You And What's Your Photography Origin Story?

Who Are You And What's Your Photography Origin Story?

Everyone has an origin story; neither you nor I were born a photographer. I want to know what your photography is about and what your story is so far.

Somewhere along the line, whether at an early age or later in life, you ended up doing this photography thing. Maybe it was a hobby passed down from a parent or relative, maybe it was art class in school, or maybe it was just something to do for a little while. Maybe you've been at it for decades, having seen the decline of film and the rise of digital, or maybe you're still fresh to the scene and a mirrorless camera is all you've ever known. Here's my origin story. In the comments below, share your story with the Fstoppers community too.

As far back as I can remember, I've always been interested and drawn to the creative arts; painting, drawing, and ceramics were always my favorites growing up. In school, I took all the art classes that I could (though interestingly enough, none of them were photography). I was an overweight kid and I got bullied a lot, so I pretty much stuck to the art department, drawing Dragon Ball Z characters to pass the time. 

Fast-forward to mid-2015 and I've found myself with a basic crop sensor Nikon and kit lens. Truth be told, I had no idea what I was doing and was pretty much just goofing around with it. I saw an ad on Tumblr of all places for a photography workshop not too far away and figured I would take a chance and see how it went. It was genuinely one of the best nights I've ever had, and from then on, I was pretty well determined to make a go of this photography thing.

 I cut my teeth shooting glamour and boudoir photography. I was trying to learn as much as I could as fast as I could about lighting (studio lighting at the time), editing, and all things camera related. Long story short, I reached a point where I felt like the glamour and boudoir scene wasn't really the area that I was best suited for, so I started experimenting with location portraiture, colorful scenery, and moving more towards a fantasy-styled image.

Fast-forward again to today and I've recently moved across the country and am still always trying to learn new things I can apply to my work. I feel like (generally speaking) I have a grasp on what I'm trying to create and I've found a genuine love for the gloomy and moody fantasy-styled imagery. I shoot with the Nikon D750 and am always using either my 85mm or 50mm prime. Photoshop has absolutely become a form of expression and editing images is something that I've come to love (most of the time haha).

So, that's me in a small-to-medium-sized nutshell. What about you, though? I want to know your story and your history when it comes to photography. Are you a portrait or landscape type? Share a little bit about yourself with the community. What's your origin story? 

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Studio 403's picture

My origin? Now 72, after 7 yrs of therapy dealing with childhood issues and a family that spoke in “code” I came to the place I needed professional help. To go to a therpist from the small town mid America, I thought I was going to see a voodoo doctor. My last session she said....I want you to get into the arts as a hobby .....etc etc. All my family members are high achievers, so someone had to be the punching bag, so I was the underachiever. And so it goes. 9 yrs later, I like what I do in this craft. I work hard to “beat myself up” over my work. Half measures did not yield fruit. I shoot mostly for no charge these days. The demand to “make money” for a living is not important. I do get some nice paying gigs. I think, “these folks must be using drugs to hire me”, and so it goes. But I dug deep inside to find out why....I thought if I did work for free, I took criticism off the table and their right to complain. Toxic motive for sure. So I have made progress. I am getting $75 bucks sitting fee. Not all the time, but better than before. All the freebie hunters have left my world...go figured. I am a soft touch, so hard to say no. Bless those men and women who don’t suffer my condition. I will cheer you on. I so love this art form. I never thought I could do what I do. So grateful and thankful. The more I shoot the more I learn what to do and not to do. I think of failure as lessons learned and move on. Nice to hear your story. Good job FStoopers, you to are getting better with your blog. A good resource.

user-167100's picture

I snapped my first photographs at around the age of six while on vacation with my parents in Albany, NY -- they needed to keep me busy for a couple of hours while they had lunch with friends. I went out on the hotel patio with their Rolliecord, and whiled away the time taking multiple exposures of the porch – they neglected to show me how the film advance mechanism worked.

We spent a summer in Tokyo, where my father bought me a Canonet QL-19, a small fixed lens rangefinder camera. I had my first exhibit at the age of 16 (3 photos) behind the reception desk at the Walker Hill Resort in Seoul, Korea that summer. The workers were so impressed that I got a free order of French Fries. I was elated.

I took the camera with me to Duquesne University for my first year of college. One day, while walking to campus, my friend leapt onto the hood of an E6 Jaguar. She said “Let’s pretend I’m a fashion model and you’re a photographer!”

​Later that day I dropped the film off at the drugstore to be processed. When I retrieved the photos, we were all amazed. They weren’t half bad. The rest, as they say, is history…

I stopped into the university darkroom and learned how to process and print. A couple of weeks later I phoned home and told my mother I was changing my major from pre-med to Photography. It took a full two years for me to convince my parents I was serious. When my junior year rolled around, I transferred to Syracuse University, where I enrolled in the journalism school. After college, I worked in color labs for several years, unable to figure out where I fit in the commercial world.

I did manage to turn down an offer to work as a copy boy at Time magazine, believing the job was beneath me. I was ignorant of the notion of starting at the bottom and working my way up. The fellow that accepted the job (another S.U. graduate) went on to become a successful photojournalist.

One thing led to another and I found myself in California in the early 70’s. The primary photographer for a public relations firm in the Palm Springs area was retiring and I managed to secure the position. I had to borrow a 2 1/4 camera for my intro jobs – the owner of the firm would not accept work produced with 35mm cameras. The desert area provided me with a vast array of commercial subject material, and weekly trips to Los Angeles fed my need for street photography.


Ákos Dián's picture

My story is like this: I got my first phone with a camera. It was a bad one when the pre-smart phone era was a thing. It had WiFi which was rear at the time, but I was a tech geek as at the time. I needed a wallpaper, but I HATE to see other people work in my face (literally, my eyes was so bad at the time, without glasses.) So I started to shot flowers, because flowers was beautiful, and I still love to shot them. These was bad, but I did what evry people do, when they face to a challenge. I given up.

After about a 2 or 3 years, my first smartphone was a thing, and I did the same process. Like I said I am a tech enthusiast, so I searched for 3rd party camera apps, and I dis foundend some terrible, but still better then the pre-built one. I did end with some good loking photos, end I realy enjoyed the process of taking a shot.

In that same year for Christmas my sister bought a compact camera for the family, but no one used it for that purpose, soooo I used it indeed. I hated that Nikon one (it was a coolpix *something*) but, I learnd a lit from it.

My second smartphone came, which was that Huawei P9 lite, that I loved so, so much.
(sadly, that phone is dead) It was my first cam, that can shot RAW files, and it opend a whole new world in front of me. But I didn't used the camera app, until my therapist said, that, "maybe you can so something outside, which involves some move or creativity". I combined that two, so I started some street and architecture photography. Slowly my skill gett better, and I signed up for an amature photography contest. I did win the 2nd place, and some money with it.

From that money, I could bought my first camera, and done some better photos. I'm now in the position of, slowly learn and getting better, but I need to learn a lot, before I even say "I am a pro photographer."

David Pavlich's picture

I've taken pictures most of my adult life, but just got serious about 5 years ago. I'm not artistically inclined, but very mechanical which probably explains the fun I have photographing things like engines and giving them a bit of tone mapping.

I'm also quite gizmo oriented which can be dangerous with this sort of hobby, so experimenting is also a large part of my photography life. I like messing with post processing software just to see if I can make it work AND make something that wouldn't be considered much of a photographic subject something people can enjoy....or at least say, " hmmmmmmm."

I'll never be a purist, too confining, but then again, some of the stuff I see posted is too "avante-garde" for my taste.

Mostly, though, it has become a true joy for me. It is good fun anytime I get my camera out regardless of the reason.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Love this, and always love your colors so much!!! My grandma gave me my first camera. I also loved painting and other art, but the camera works with my attention span best and my desire to want things a certain way, which I could not pull off with a paintbrush, and I wanted to play dress up forever I guess haha

Kim Ginnerup's picture

My first encounter with photography was with my granddad. I havebeen 4-6 years old. He had his own darkroom which I found incredible boring. I helped him retouching photos which in my optics took way too long, why not just draw on the picture. This was back in 1962-64. He died an old man in 1965 and I enherited his old camera. I used it sparsely in the early 70´ties but couldn’t afford the film. In I guess 1977 I bought an Olympus om 2. I wanted a Nikon but did not have the money for it. I did portraits for friends and family had my own darkroom which I later upgraded to color. I joined a photo club. Then in 1985 my girlfriend and I bought a house with no place for a darkroom. Work and music took over and I stopped photography. Fast forward to to 2014 one of my girls got pregnant and I had promised to buy a new camera when I became the granddad. I tried out a Nikon D750 this time I had the money to buy my dream brand. Found it big and heavy. Tried a Sony A7 didn’t like the ergonomics and the lenses were big. Then I tried an Olympus OM-D M5 II. It was like coming home. I started reading up on photography and have seen many hours of video on Lynda.com. I started a photo “gang” with other 3 guys. I was first in line when the OM-D M1 II was released. We travelled to Iceland and this spring two of us took a trip to Borneo and Bali and took thousands of photos some of them may even be good :-). I have taken thousands of photos of my granddaughter and I again make portraits of friends and family. Today I am 60 play bass in a band and love photography. the photo gang are planning new trips to places in the world we like to visit. I have two more grand children on its ways so I will not run out of subjects to photograph. I will never go pro, but I believe that this time I will not stop taking photos. Actually I find that work takes to much time of your life to do what really matters, haven’t it not always been like that :-)

user-187388's picture

I am now 72 also. I grew up with my dad being a keen amateur photographer.I didn't start taken photos until a work trip took me to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory in 1970. I was hooked on the the new tropical surrounds and scenery.Spent 12 months in Darwin with my hometown being Adelaide in South Australia. The second 6 months was with my new bride.I was using a kodak Retina folding 35mm film camera. Still have it and it still works.Came back to Adelaide and started doing a bit more photography. Recorded pet family cats, children when they arrived and then in 1975 was asked to photograph 2 family weddings. In at the deep end. Always kept my day job but did weddings for many years on weekends.Progressed from film through the digital age and still going. Now I occasionally teach and mentor people in photography and keep snapping away at all my favourite subjects. Family,Birds, Landscape,Sport and just about anything.No longer doing weddings but occasionally involved. I love photography and am amazed at the brilliant work new photographers are doing now. I still occasionally shoot film but love digital too.I enjoy fstoppers and the people that are involved here.Thanks to the others for posting their stories and for Evan for posting this.

I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember. In middle school we had an assignment for birds and I remember going around with a disposable camera taking photos of birds. I learned a lot about being still lol. From then on I didn’t really focus on photography it was just fun. It wasn’t until after my divorce and I stopped blogging for awhile that I discovered a love for photography. I have been featured by local Instagram networks a few times. Recently I won a contest and have one of my photos in the 2019 calendar for a local state park. I’ve only shot on my iPhone so far. Haven’t had the funds for getting a DSLR yet. Someday I will but by using my iPhone I have gotten good at editing to make it appear like a DSLR photo. I edit on my iPhone and iPad only. I’d love to cut my teeth into the business side of things. Still learning my way though till I get there. I’m CarolinaHawkeye on Instagram look me up.

I got my interest in high school (late 1960's) with my parents Polaroid Land camera (with bellows); they bought me a Polaroid Swinger camera to take on trips. After college and in the workplace and marriage, I bought a Canon A-1 in 1981 and added lenses, a motor drive, and a flash.
Back in December 2011, she was going to buy me a DSLR; when I found that her budget was a Canon Rebel T5, I talked her out of it and as a consolation, bought me a used Canon FD 28mm f2.8 lens,
In July 2013, my wife and I were driving back from Charleston, SC and I mentioned that a used camera reseller, KEH, had a Canon New F-1 with the FN Finder AE, FN Motor Drive AE, and two metering screens for $400. She asked "That's their flagship camera?" I answered "Yes, for the 80's." She said "Buy it." With the F-1, I could share lenses that I bought for the A-1. What I didn't know was that in December 2013, she was going to buy me a Canon 5D III. She was looking at Amazon and I found a better package deal at B&H for $500 less.

stir photos's picture

as a whistle peter grom, i had a high school photography class, so my parents got me a pentax k1000; i have no idea whatever happened to it though... our teacher (mr. wong!) told us to enter some of our pictures in a local library contest- mine won 3rd place.

many, many moons later my wife got me a dslr for xmas one year, and that's when i started digging in a little more. i remember one day shooting everything under the sun in pasadena when i got approached by two women who asked if i was a photographer. I told them no, and was just messing around really. they explained their photographer was a no-show and asked if i'd help, so i did. a couple of weeks later one of them asked if i'd take some swimsuit pictures of her, so i did. a few weeks later there was a conversation with the wife explaining that there might be some changes in my newfound photography hobby. then there were some rules... the swimsuit woman became a friend and we still shoot when we can.

i'm still messing around and am in constant beta, but it's a fun hobby that suits me. i've had at least a few mentors that point me in directions and then let me fly. i've also made some good friends along the way; i've also met some interesting people with awesome stories.

coincidentally, my son just got a fuji instax that we took for his first shoot today, in fact. his theme was a "creature report". :)

I am 63 and can't really call myself a photographer yet. I hadn't touched a camera till I was 62 and a half.

About 6 months ago my daughter was trying to build up her website and, around the same time, I was planning to give up my job as a software architect. She was on the phone with her photo/video team at all hours of the day and I had an intense schooling on what worked for her and what didn't. Listening to her comment and gripe and curse, I thought I could become a video editor too (and I did, albeit an amateur one). Once that first step was taken, it was but a short step to getting a camera, accompanying her team on shoots, planning my own shoots, and so on.

Benjamin Snider's picture

I'm a 3rd generation photographer. My great grandpa took pictures during WW1 that could have been on the cover off Time and my grandpa as well. So I was always around cameras and photography and from a young age often had a camera in hand.

I really started getting serious after I lost my wife to cancer and coped with the grief my spending my days outside with a smartphone, taking pictures of the various flowers, mushrooms and insects (including a species of very poisonous millipede) as a way to keep my mind occupied.

Eventually, I invested in a DSLR and have only taken off from there. Recently, I've been shooting with film, using the equipment and even some of the film my grandpa spooled a good 70 years ago.