Rhylin Images


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With all that’s happening in my life right now, I find it increasingly difficult to find the time to pick up my camera and get some images. I also find that when I am able to do so, I feel that I have slipped, ever so slightly from my usual fluidity. I struggle to find the proper trinity of shutter speed, f-stop and ISO for a good exposure. Also my vision for the concept I had in mind originally will suddenly shift from what it was. Sometimes the shift is slight; sometimes it’s a larger one.

The shift in my motivation for picking up the camera has come full circle. The first time I picked up the camera, a curiosity to capture the world and its events so that I could remember that moment in time, years later began. I loved snapping shots of my friends, family and anything that I thought was relevant, or that I liked. It was a simpler time then, which made the journey much more enjoyable.

I put down the camera briefly in my transition from high school to college and picked it up again, when I enrolled in a photography class. It was there that I went from merely taking snapshots to fully realizing the potential of an image. It was also the purchase of my first SLR camera. I learned about the trinity of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, not to mention dextol, stop bath, burning and dodging. I fell in love with the anticipation of seeing my images appear in the developer and examining them after they had been developed.

It was here that my motivation for picking up the camera changed as well. I went from capturing images that I loved, to capturing images that would please not only me but my teacher and classmates as well. The pressure was big, but at that time you couldn’t tell; how I would show up to class with my roll or rolls of film ready to be developed, only to be disappointed when out of 24 frames, only one or two would be suitable for enlarging. My photos were plagued with the signs of an amateur, out of focus shots, underexposure, and overexposure. It was a crushing blow to say the least. I would shoot a roll of film on my old point and shoot or my Polaroid and every one of them was a keeper, at least in my eyes. Now I was throwing away more than half of my shots. It was a setback indeed, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I let my teacher’s words resonate loudly with me whenever he would critique my work, “Out of 24 exposures, you are likely to have anywhere between 3-5 really good ones.” I improved on my technique, and soon, my good image rate increased to about 5-7 on a roll. However, I still had in the back of my mind, “will the others like this shot?”The pressure was on.

This pressure continued when I became the unofficial, “official” photographer for the Upward Bound Program at the University of the District of Columbia. At this point, I put the camera down in favor of a camcorder and started shooting videos. By now it was more about pleasing an entire program, as well as parents of the students. This increased exposure, only served to increase the thought, “will they like this video?”I did find time to do projects that were just for me. I found that these projects received the most accolades. With the camcorder’s automatic user friendliness, I found myself missing the art of controlling my equipment to produce an image and I went back to still photography. Creating slide shows from the images gave me the best of both worlds. I still found myself trying to please others with my work, however.

Along came the internet, Flickr, Facebook and the like. Now it wasn’t a small audience I was trying to please but a global one. Can you say pressure? The accolades that I received from the parents and staff I now wanted from random folks around the world. I thought I was damn good with my camera. I thought I could produce images that would astound and captivate a global audience. The blow of the roundhouse kick delivered by reality was an eye opener. Cruising the internet, produced images from folks just like me, people with a passion and a love for photography. The difference between myself and them was that they were damn good. I saw images from folks that made my images look like regular snap shots. I can say that I felt truly defeated. I really felt like giving up photography. I wasn’t getting paid for it, and compared to the other photographers, I felt like I was at the bottom of the barrel. But something kept stirring in my bones and I would constantly find myself reading about photography, watching videos on YouTube and given the opportunity, practice my craft. I still felt like I had hit a wall with my photography. All the images felt the same. I felt like I was just copying something I had seen on another photographer’s site. I felt like I had lost my way and the joy I had when I was a kid was all but gone. One day I was surfing photography sites and I stumbled upon a blog post about the CreativeLive web seminars. They are more like full blown web classes, but unlike other workshops and classes, they are free for the live viewing. If you desire to download the class after it’s over, there is a cost. There is also a discount for buying the course before it’s over.

My first class was the one hosted by Zack Arias. He led a class on studio lighting, a skill that I have since been interested in. The class was very good and I decided that I would try to buy the next one that came along. This decision would change the course of my motivation and my photography as I know it. The course I bought turned out to be the one lead by David duChemin and was about Vision Driven Photography. His workshop wasn’t about techniques, post-processing or anything related to the mechanics of photography. He talked about why he pushes the shutter, why he chooses his lens, shutter speed and ISO, what he wants his image to say. It was a refreshing change from the bombardment of, “set your camera like this and you’re done,” information I have received. I felt enthralled by his words and could barely turn away from the monitor as he spoke. The one thing that he talked about that really hit home was this and I’m paraphrasing, “Create an image that you love… regardless of what others might think of it.” I had turned a corner and found myself looking at… myself. That young kid with his point and shoot that shot any and everything. It was that curiosity that started my journey and I wanted to get back to that.

They say that what is old will become new again. It happens with styles, fashions– and it happened to me. I shoot for me now. I shoot what I like, and while I may borrow elements from other photographers, I have and am developing my own style. I’m curious about the process of photography again and am ready to make more beautiful images. I want to once again capture the world, only this time, I want to do it how I see it. Now when I pick up the camera, there is a new pressure; a pressure to outdo my last image, to push myself further and to try new things. Even through all that is happening in my life, whenever I pick up my camera it’s as if I’m that little boy again. A little boy who takes pictures of sometimes nude sometimes scantily clad women. But a little boy who has fallen in love with his craft all over again.