Listening to the Muse….
It’s been about a year now since I came home to Marion County to begin a new life with my Suzy. We live south of Columbia, my home town and south of Foxworth, Suzy’s home town, on a quiet old highway on the edge of the Pearl River Swamp. I live with the love of my life, in the midst of the family I’ve always wanted and never thought I’d have. It’s a truly special place and time, and it has just become even more special.
You see, I have for some years been seriously fascinated with photography. This particular passion goes back to the halcyon days of my university career at Southern Mississippi. My first efforts at photography were the result of classes I took as part of my major course of study. I started with basic photography class and an old twin lens reflex camera, shooting mostly black and white film. A second course put a 35 mm camera in my hands and led me into the world of color imagery. Not long after I left USM, I bought myself a Nikkormat FT2 35mm camera, with which I lept deeply into the world of photography, going so far as to develop my own film and after I’d put together a small darkroom, making my own prints. That little journey lasted some several years, until the night I ventured onto Pensacola Beach as a tropical storm passed, hoping to get some good storm shots. Did get a few, but the salt spray being pushed ashore by the storm leeched into the camera, and it froze up, never to function again.
“Oh, well,” I said. “I’ll get myself another camera.” And I did just that….nearly twenty years later. By that time, I’d become a graphics designer, and after spending a frustrating afternoon trying to locate just the right image for a project, I decided that there had to be a better way. Recalling that I’d been a fairly decent photographer back in the day, I determined to at last get that new camera, so as to shorten the process of getting the images I needed for my graphics projects. But things had changed a great deal since that stormy night on Pensacola Beach. The tried and true film cameras of old had been supplanted by the newest thing – digital photography. No longer was it necessary to spend hours locked into stuffy darkrooms, immersed in clouds of chemical vapor, trying to create images on paper. The darkroom was gone, as was the film. Images were now captured by electronic sensors and recorded on small media cards. These were then taken into a computer, wherein an image could be shaped and molded without need for chemicals and paper. This opened up an incredible new world to me, one not limited by how many exposures were on a roll of film or how long it took a photo lab to make prints.
The entire creative process now rested within my hands. I discovered that I was limited only by my own imagination. I got my hands on a Sony DSC-F828 camera, one which gave me a great deal of latitude. I’ve enjoyed many hours of shooting, sometimes idly and sometimes driven by an insatiable need to create. Time and experience brought forth a catalog of imagery that some deemed worthy of note. There came one exhibition in Jackson, and then another. Didn’t sell much, but I learned a great deal.
Just before Christmas last, I was given a new camera, a Nikon D7000. This event closed a circle. That first camera I’d bought for myself, not long after leaving USM, had been a Nikkormat FT2 – made by the same company as my new D7000. And what a camera this new one is! Where the Sony had limitations, this new Nikon has incredible potential. I’ve been using it a little over three months and already, the Nikon is forcing me to stretch my wings wide, to reach for things never before achieved, and I am only scratching the surface of learning to properly use the camera. It’ll be some time before I can be totally comfortable with the camera. But even as I learn my craft anew, even as the muse whispers softly into my ear, I strive to improve, to get better with each passing day.
God smiles on me again, as he has done so many times this last year. I have come home. I have found the woman of whom I’ve long dreamed, and I’ve been graced with the most wonderful family for which any man could hope. And now, those long-ago dreams, those days spent in this little town, adrift in imaginative flights of fantasy, have led me full-circle to a warmly familiar old street that I know so well. I recall a quotation from an old sixties wall poster, one which caught my eye and my thoughts.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~T.S. Eliot
And so, here I am, in the place from where I began, a place I now know so well, a place I love so deeply, among family and friends and familiar places. . One hopes you’ll find a moment or two to come back here from time to time, to gaze upon the captured bits of the imagination of a man who is so very grateful to have arrived at the place from which he started.