Fresh Life: Photography Roots Run Deep
My love for photography has enabled me to capture breathtaking scenery, zoom in on wildlife and share special moments with people, some whom were familiar others whom were strangers.
The passion began on a trip to Florida when I was 12. Finding me laying on the ground with a disposable camera and trying to get the perfect shot of some flowers was my simple realization that photography would become my career or at least an avid hobby.
This passion has allowed me to spend hours of solitude in darkrooms, work retail locations developing film, maintaining film machines, and seeing people’s lives through photos.
It also has allowed me to teach wildlife photo workshops, organize photo contests, stand next to ESPN photographers at the Winter X games, capture breaking news and see details of wildlife normally unnoticeable. It officially started with an unofficial position as an intern for a local paper while in high school.
I carried my camera everywhere and captured great shots of good news but, after getting back to the office, had no idea how to turn on the computers to compose a story. I then became involved in my high schools newspaper, The Trojan Crier, where I received the top journalism award, as a senior then continued on with the newspaper in photography school and then a small paper based out of Wellsboro, Pa., dedicated to beauty, nature, and wonder. After photographing a wedding in 2001 and taking some senior portraits, I felt my love for photography was really starting to literally pay off.
Throughout the years, I have owned many types of film and digital cameras. My favorite film camera was a Sigma. Although the name wasn’t as popular as leading brands, that camera was a tank. It was hard for me to transition into the digital world as my photography schooling didn’t delve into that at the time but, I feel it allowed me to become better acquainted with the history, tradition, and true core values of photography.
Once the digital scene really started to emerge, I gave it a chance and found that, yes, it was much more efficient. Among other reasons, I could now print individual photos for my scrap booking hobby instead of waiting for the 24 or 36 pictures in my roll to be sent out for developing. Digital camera technology also allowed me to start carrying only one camera when photographing weddings. Before digital cameras, I would carry a camera loaded with T-Max black and White Film and another loaded with Kodak Portraiture film. Switching between the two throughout the whole wedding and reception. Now, I can change any of the values of the photograph in seconds with the ever-popular, Photoshop.
Personally, one of the most bothersome aspects of digital photography is the growing numbers of individuals who start businesses with their cameras without a true working knowledge or background of the subject. Candle watts, exposure times, F-Stops and color theory seem to be a thing of the past because; seemingly anyone can make a good photo with the appropriate program.
Without these individuals knowing the basic rule of thirds or lighting techniques though, I feel that the old school generations of those who understand film cameras and darkrooms still take and make a better quality photograph, overall.
From Joseph Nicéphore Niépce's first photograph entitled View from the Window at Le Gras — with a full eight hour day’s exposure, to being able to develop photos on site, within minutes of taking it, the world of photography has changed dramatically over the years. Kodak, who was once the top dog of photography products since the 1880s, has recently claimed bankruptcy and the small businesses that carry darkroom supplies, film, and cameras are slowly disappearing, as many big box stores have taken over.
There are some standards still left though. The paparazzi and photojournalism hasn’t changed much over the years. The paparazzi is still invading peoples lives while photojournalists are still capturing breaking news and sharing amazing moments in time with the world.
When I was younger, my ultimate dream with photography was to become a National Geographic photographer. Although that dream has slowly faded, as the reality of my life changed, I still enjoy photographing environmental portraits and wildlife.
If one were to dust off my old yearbook from high school, they would find the following under my senior photo. Amy Ruth Debach Plans (after high school) “Photographing the World.” While I haven’t truly been around the world, I have been many places and photographed many things including people, animals, landscapes, weddings, portraits, babies, pets, children, buildings and events to name a few.
The reality of my photography passion is this: My camera is with me at all times and photography and capturing people will always be the one hobby, profession, and activity that can brighten my day. One F-stop, at least.