My origins are rooted with Kodak. To say that I was born with a Kodak reflex camera around my neck is a hyperbole, but when I was five years old, my father placed a Kodak Reflex camera around my neck, who said, “ Hold it against your belly, look into the viewfinder and when you are ready to take a picture hold your breath and snap.” I walked around with that camera, constantly documenting my world…and sometimes I even had film in it. There was such a thrill of anticipation as my little fingers split the paper wrapper and threaded the film onto the sprocket…what joy!
That camera is a most cherished possession and sits close to me in my office today. It looks so much smaller than it did when I was five. I wish I could still get film for it – my T-Max just doesn’t fit. But no matter…Kodak is inexorably woven in my being. My dad set up a darkroom in our bathroom. Oh, the aroma of those Kodak chemicals and viewing the contact strips he made was pure magic…and those sensations led me into every darkroom I have worked in! I wish those early photographs survived….but the camera and memories do.
Years later, in 1991 to be exact, I took a two-week black and white photography course at the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport, Maine with Steve Bliss, the now-head of photography, at Savannah School of Art and Design. I created a self-portrait with an assemblage of Kodak film and developing reels. I called it The Kodak Smile….and that was at least 10 years before Kodak saw my Antarctica photographs printed on Kodak Metallic paper and invited me to become a Kodak Professional Partner.
To add to the serendipitous events in my life, during the summer of 2011, I ran into Steve Bliss in Provence where Savannah School of Art and Design has a satellite program. That’s how I discovered he had been made head of the photography department… and to think that 20 years later our paths intersected….like magic!
Kodak is integrally woven into my creative roots, was instrumental in defining me as an artist and will always be part of me.
The words of T.S Eliot from The Four Quartets sum up, so appropriately, my relationship with Kodak:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
In my early years of photography my subjects were flowers and butterflies and I searched for perfect specimen. Unconsciously or subconsciously, I composed beyond the flower or butterfly, aiming and focusing on the entire frame because the background had to complement the subject to make the image work. How I chose to see and compose resonated with others because it was those early butterflies that brought attention from the press and the public.
As I travel the world Kodak, film fills my camera bag…to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica and to Australia and New Zealand, Europe, South America….
Wanting to wiggle my way into a newspaper project, I purchased my first digital camera and began shooting with it so I could say I was experienced….but Kodak film, especially T-MAX 100 and TMAX 400 continue to dominate my camera bags.
I am still running as fast as I can…and so is my slide and film scanner…translating my precious chromes and negs into digital files for printing purposes. Kodak is ever-present in my heart, viewfinder and printed image.
Every time I see the Kodak brand, be it in China, France…anywhere…it gets documented…and I smile knowing that all is well with the world of photography because I am not alone. Photographers world-wide still choose to shoot with film.
Kodak is part of my past, present and future and photography, for me, is the synthesis of my love-affair with life. Thank you, Kodak, for providing me with the means to capture, document, and share my journey.