When I was a little lad, as my grandfather would call me, I dreamed of being the next Ansel Adams. I loved photographing landscapes. I saw my grandfather painting them and they adorned our house. A few even hung in my room, birthday gifts I received when I was six. They were of the African Savannah featuring lions chasing their prey. Years later, my room would be filled with similar images of big cats. Little did I know, my family crest, which is also apart of my logo, was in fact an English Lion. Anyway, I photographed the Utah/Wisconsin landscapes as best as a 8 year old could with a point and shoot 120 film camera. It produced 5×5 photo booklets when printed at the local food-mart. I have boxes of these silver-hinged things. Most of the images in them appear to be blurry or out of focus, but everyone has a shaky beginning at something, especially photographers.
Eventually I upgraded and 35mm and Kodak T-Max 400 film became my friend. My mother took me to a camera store on main street in Stevens Point once, long since closed, – she recalled how I was like a kid in a candy store. I was hooked.
From then on, it was what I simply spent my time doing. It was an expensive hobby, but my family quickly appreciated the convenience of having a pint-sized photographer in their midst. My grandmother, who turned 83 today, might be the only person who would much rather go without having her picture taken. Growing up the only time we ever were photographed professionally was for school and the church directory. Frankly, we never would have been able to afford a family portrait otherwise. Olan Mills did a great job of capturing my mother’s big hair and square shoulders, not to mention my braces and square glasses. Yes, I was a true nerd. Thankfully the headgear stayed home and I was introduced to contacts. Nevertheless, sports were painful and photography seemed an odd match because I was nearly blind without vision correction.
If I could have found a way to make a living traveling the world and photographing creation I would have. National Geographic photographer was also near the very top of my “Future Dream Job” list. Nearly a year ago, my wife and I photographed a Destination Wedding in Dublin, Ireland. We arrived early and traveled across the small island in a small rental, which I learned to drive promptly after stepping off the plane. Ireland was something I had promised Katie when we first got married and within five years I had kept my end of the bargain. Husband points for me. Regretfully, I didn’t take nearly enough photographs. I don’t think I ever would have been happy with just 2000 images from a 1 week trip to Europe, but that just gives me another reason to go back in the future.
2012 was one of the greatest years of my life and with us being literally hours away from becoming parents again, I begin to look back – when really I should be looking ahead. Where will the future take us? Only God knows the answer to this question and I put my trust in it, but I cannot help wonder where our journey is going to take us. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
While I might not be ‘Ansel Adams’ of a National Geographic Wildlife Photographer, I am not disappointed in the least because God’s plans are so much greater than my own.
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” – Rainer M. Rilke
f. 16 24mm 1/80sec ISO 400