My Mentor, My Dad

September 29, 2020

It's taken me about a month to find the words to make this post after my Dad lost his four-year battle with cancer on August 31, 2020. He was the reason that I became a photographer. Most people look at me funny when I say I've been doing photography since I was in second grade, but it's true! And I owe all of that to my Dad. I'll borrow a few words from the eulogy that I wrote for his funeral... "of all of his hobbies, I like to think that it was by the pure Grace of God that he decided to set up a black and white darkroom in our living room in the winter of 1978. Because it was there that he introduced me to one of the great loves of my life and eventually to my career, with the art of photography! He developed a photo of a flooded barn in Clay City that was taken during the epic flood of 1978. I set my Star Wars X-Wing Fighter down just long enough to watch that barn magically appear in the developer tray, and I have literally never looked back since then. It was truly a life changing moment that I had with my dad.

Dad then gave me an old Agfa viewfinder camera that was 100 percent manual! There was no light meter. Just f-stops, shutter speeds, and a manual focus ring that taught me to judge the distance from the camera to the subject. And with that, Dad unknowingly gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life, he taught me how to read light. Of course, none of us thought anything about it at the time, but to a photographer light is everything!

We'd be driving down the road and he'd say, "Tim Bo, what's your camera settings for that house over there? I'd think about it and say something like, "f-8 at 250???" He'd say, "Yeah, that's pretty close." To make matters worse, he started me out on slide film, so I really did have to learn how to read light at a young age, or none of my photos would've ever turned out right.

Both of my parents supported me as I followed my dream of becoming a professional photographer. Ultimately, they gave me the one thing that no one will ever be able to take away from me...an education!

The photos above are of the Agfa camera that's now in my office, the flooded barn that got it all started, and a photo from a few days later, which is undoubtedly the first photo that I ever took in my life, a photo of the man who introduced me to all of it, a picture of my Dad sitting on the couch in our den in Clay City, Kentucky, during the snowy winter of 1978.

 


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