I purchased my first camera when I was 10 years old with money earned from my afternoon paper route. Being rather naive, I bought a knock off of the Brownie Hawkeye camera from the local Hook’s drug store on the town square. Years later, I realized I could have purchased a better camera from the local camera and hobby store where I delivered an afternoon paper each day and would purchase a model airplane or car with my earnings. My first photography class was part of a high school yearbook/newspaper workshop at Indiana University and was taught by Will Counts. Interestingly, the last course I took for my doctorate was a typography course taught by Will—he remembered me after all those years.
During graduate school, I studied photography, worked as a photographer as part of graduate assistantship, and taught an introductory photography course. I had a chance to study with Denny Pett, Walter Niekamp, and Warren Stevens. Warren was experimenting with an inexpensive, imported enlarger trying to create 16×20 enlargements from 35mm Tri-X film. If you search through the old Peterson PHOTOgraphic magazine archive, then you will find an article by Warren and others on how he setup his point source system to create incredibly sharp prints. The article spurred a debate with Ansel Adams who maintained you should not see the grain in a print. Warren took the stance that grain is the essence of photography and should be seen, especially when it is in very sharp focus. Funny, we tried to eliminate grain when using film, now there is software to create the same effect in digital prints!
After finishing graduate school, I worked as instructional designer for various organizations including the University of Mid-America before deciding to return to academia. Not having a darkroom or a job that required my photography expertise, I proceeded to forget just about everything I had learned about photography. A few years ago, my interest in photography was rekindled with the purchase of my first digital camera. Since then, I have been befriended by Ben Greenberg of Charlottesville, Virginia who has been very helpful in my latest venture into photography. I feel fortunate that I was on location with him for a few of the photographs he has in his recent book, Natural Virginia: Panoramic Landscape Photographs by Ben Greenberg.
So, what happened in the years between graduate school and today? The last 30 years have been spent as a professor at three universities. During this time, I have coauthored two books (7 editions of one and 4 editions of the other), authored or coauthored over 45 refereed journal articles and almost 40 book chapters. Once I retire at the end of 2014, I will have more time to devote to photography and less time for grading papers!