Changes in Photography | Light

Changes in Photography | Light

Darkroom to Digital

My love of photography began in college. I knew I wanted to do something creative but I couldn't put my finger on it until I was in art class drawing nudes and all I could configure was a circle and some lines.  The body was beautiful and I wanted to capture it. And then I found photography.



I never explored photography as I won my first camera when I was 6, it broke and my parents said cameras always break and take a photo with your mind so that's what I had always done.  Some of my favorite moments are only captured in my mind.  But after taking my first black and white photography class it all changed.

I started shooting on a Pentax K1000 with TMax 100 film and Ilford Delta 3200 speed film and spending hours upon hours shooting and in the darkroom processing my film, dodging and burning print after print going through countless boxes of Ilford darkroom paper until the morning.  It was the funnest and most relaxing thing I had ever done in my life, creating some thing with my mind and capturing it on film and then having complete control of the density and tonality in the darkroom.  Walking out with a piece of art that I perfected to the best of my ability at that point.

I then decided to study at the University of Western Sydney in Australia where my mind was completely blown but to be accepted I had to be fluent in Photoshop and Quark Express, which at the time, I had never heard of but I most certainly told them I was a whiz! I wanted to be accepted so bad!

I arrived and made friends with graphic artists who quickly taught me all they could before classes began and by the time I had to create documents in Quark and Photoshop I could wing it enough that I didn't get kicked out.

In my photography class we got to shoot on medium format cameras in COLOR film, yes, COLOR!! And use a color darkroom!!! I thought black and white was fun, this was so much better!  I stopped seeing in only black and white and started paying attention to the color! I met the most amazing friends who would model for me anytime and we had access to a studio.  I found that I preferred to only use the modeling lights on the strobes instead of the flashes because I loved the warm glow it gave and how I could "see the light" on the models.  In the darkroom I could manipulate the color much the way you can do in Photoshop with the click of a button only it took so much longer.   I shot my heart out, learned all I could, had so much fun and was hooked, it was all I did, all I thought about, all I dreamed of and all I was.  I got to create any beauty I could imagine and capture and keep all the beauty around me.  I now got to see my memories and visually share them and not just keep them in my mind's vault.


Once I completed the most amazing journey I came back to complete my degree at Appalachian State University and then moved to NYC to work with Joyce Tenneson and Lois Greenfield.

In 2003 I moved home to the Outer Banks of NC and began photographing weddings and family portraits.  My first 2 weddings were still shot on film, rolls upon rolls of film.  We didn't have a lab here on the OBX or at my home besides Walmart or Walgreens so I mailed them off to Miller's Imaging . This was terrifying considering this was someone's WEDDING that just vanished from my hands into the postal system, with all the tracking and reassurance that it would arrive at Miller's safely, I was still on pins and needles.  They received it, whew.  And I received the film and prints back.  Double Whew. And I had them scan the film and send it back to me on CDs as well.  I couldn't stand the thought of only one copy of this monumental and unreplicable event existing!

It was about this time digital cameras were gaining popularity and my nerves couldn't handle film and not being able to back it up almost immediately.  I researched cameras and decided on the Fuji Finepix series.  Wow, what a learning curve and having to be my own "lab" processing all these raw files to jpg (nope, hadn't learned about automation and actions yet) I felt like I was never sleeping for a whole other reason, I was drowning in files although they were backed up 3 times as soon as I got back from the wedding!


Digital photography is constantly changing and evolving.  We have to learn and grow with it.  Cameras are getting smaller and less cumbersome.  They are able to capture more in lower light with less grain, you can use large enough memory cards you don't have to change cards during a whole wedding, you can change the ISO for every shot if you choose to and back the images up instantly to another memory card, which is amazing!

The most recent news I've heard about is Light and their new camera technology integrating 16 lens into one smartphone sized camera. As photographers, we have to be open to new cameras, software, lighting, techniques and ways of thinking, as nothing ever stays the same. We're thankful to have the tools to keep up with and exceed our photographic needs.  If you can think of an image but don't have the tools to create it than it's just a thought.

With equipment and technology we capture milestones and moments that can never be recreated,


Teens having good "clean" fun,


Babies learning to swim,


Moments that turn to memories.

081615_blackwell_0189And occasionally, a man and his son in diapers to make his wife laugh.


Thankfully, someone really smart created Photoshop and I REALLY learned how to write actions and even how to color correct in Photoshop - not just to be accepted to a school.