As a kid in East Texas my family didn't own a camera. During the Vietnam War I joined the Air Force. I was in new places, seeing new things, so I wanted pictures. I knew nothing about photography I thought you simply pushed the button and made a picture.
I bought a very simple Kodak camera and started talking pictures. My real interest started when the pictures didn't seem to show what I wanted. I realized there was more to photography than just pointing the camera and pushing the shutter release.
I started reading and learning. I bought a better camera, and then a better one. I did a little darkroom work when one was available. Photography was more difficult in those days and knowledge of photography was far less common than it is today. By the time I was discharged from the AF, four years, I wasn't great, but better than most at taking pictures.
My last duty was in Western Oklahoma where I met Sharon and we married. We decided I would work for her dad and go to school. A hunter, fisherman, outdoor person i started working on a degree which could lead to work as a game warden. But after the first couple semesters I was unhappy studying Biology, Botany... I wanted to do photography.
With almost no photography offered I started taking art classes. No one said much, but I'm sure the family thought it was a wast of time and money. I had little talent for drawing, painting... and art nor photography were like real jobs.
The summer after my third year I saw that a big local studio was hiring school day photographers. That was a place to start I thought. After being hired I moved up fairly quickly, doing weddings, senior portraits, and then studio and location portraits.
A little more than two years and I was made the manager/photographer of one of their studios. I learned a lot while working there, we did high quality work, and the chief photographer, an old master, become a mentor and a friend.
BUT! I dreamed of the life that I thought some photographers enjoyed. I knew I was good enough and was thinking about working for myself. The studio lost some of my best work which I'd plane to exhibit at the state convention. I went in to quit and they told me they had big plans for me. I'd most likely be the chief photographer some day they said. but I quit anyway.
Great timing, we learned we had a baby coming and now no regular paycheck. It didn't take long to realize that while I was a talented photographer I was not a smart business man. I thought the clients would come looking for me, but they didn't.
We soon realized more debt than income so we did another 'smart thing'; we bought a flower shop. Our thinking was that this long established flower business would give me a connection to more potential customers and especially to wedding customers. It worked somewhat, but we had underestimated how much work the flower business would be.
It wasn't all bad, but after struggling for about fifteen years we were both burnt out, nothing was much fun anymore. Sharon had a mild heart attach at age thirty seven. I took her fourth grade class at our church. I found I liked teaching young kids, so back to school for an elementary education degree.
After three more very difficult years I became a fourth grade teacher in the local school. With a teaching career my photography was pushed more and more to the back burner. After a couple of years I took no more professionals work. I taught for twenty three years and always maintained an interest, but photography was less important to me.
My wife is very smart and may know me better than I know myself. I retired in 2012 and some months later my she came home with a DSLR and two kit lenses. I even fussed a little that we didn't need that more expensive camera. I got over my reluctance pretty quickly though.
More importantly I've fallen in love with photography again. I'm now spending much of my time doing photography, planning what I want to shoot, and taking photography excursions. In a way I'm doing what I'd dreamed of doing when we were young and I'm loving it!
Buck Buchanan joined Pixels.com Licensing on June 12th, 2015.