I am deeply involved in book publishing - anyone who would be interested in reviewing any of the more than 120 books on photography I have had published on Amazon please click on the link below. http://ebooks.paulbmoorephotography.com/ Back in the late 50’s I expressed an interest to my parents in photography, and they, being generous and loving parents bought me not only a Brownie 620 roll film camera but a complete developing kit, small contact printing box, and all the relevant chemistry and paper required to – do it yourself. The first roll of film was free but from then on ‘chore allowance’ supplied the rest.
I was hooked forever. About 5 years later, and being a junior in high school in a small desert town in Arizona, I approached the editor of our local weekly newspaper and expressed a deep interest in providing him with photographs – I wouldn’t even charge him. I do believe, in retrospect, that he was totally astonished at my brazenness yet he agreed with conditions. The conditions were that I was to ‘cover’ all high school varsity events, WRITE a story about the event, and to use the newspaper’s 4 x 5 Crown Graphic press camera (complete with bulb flash, bulbs, and film) and he would pay me $1.00 per column inch for all published material.
I instantly accepted never giving a thought to his generosity and trust as I was most immediately concerned with how the camera worked. I didn’t have a clue. I spent the entire weekend pushing buttons, loading and unloading film holders, rolling the rack and pinion gears forward and backward, and peering through the rangefinder optic. I gave myself a crash course in bulb guide numbers and went to a varsity basketball game that very week and shot 10 sheets of Tri-X. That night I learned never to pop a hot spent bulb into your bare hand.
Immediately the next day I typed up my finest piece of sports journalism, gathered my film holders, and took the lot to my new editor. While I sat there he turned the film over to his lab man and immediately began to proofread my article. It ended up looking like a road map – he sent me home to re-write and re-type the entire piece. Stunned, I did so. When I presented it the next day he said it was barely acceptable and that it was rather fortunate for me that the images were considerably better than my writing! If I remember correctly I was paid $9.00.
I have no idea how many pieces or images were printed during the next year or so – it simply never occurred to me to keep track. At any rate the next years were busy with Uncle Sam and photography was pushed far into the distant background.
The years following service saw my interest in photography return with a vengeance. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and working in a laboratory in the metals industry. And, like so many many before me did weddings and comp sheets for potential actors and actresses with landscapes and experimental work for my personal pleasure. The company that I worked for threw a wrench in my extracurricular activities by offering me a promotion that required a transfer to a small town in New Jersey. The offer was too good to refuse, and in those days it was quite ill advised to refuse a promotion, and I soon found myself, with family in tow, in New Jersey. My new corporate position was quite demanding and offered precious little time to shoot weddings or portraits so I had what I thought was a brilliant idea of sending my collection of transparencies and prints to an agent in Philadelphia and leave the marketing to them. He returned them after a month writing that although they were ‘OK’ I needed work on my composition. I was, of course, quite perplexed on precisely how to resolve this deficiency, as I had never received this critique before. I resolved to find an acknowledged expert photographer and ask him to give me advice on how to improve my work.
After considerable searching I found out that Bernard Hoffman, one of the first four Life Magazine staff photographers, was retired and lived not 15 miles from where I did. I located his telephone number, called, and spoke to his wife. She told me that Bernie accepted five students every three months for personal one on one instruction but that I would have to come down and see him bringing along my portfolio for him to review. If my work was up to snuff he would decide whether or not to accept me as a student.
I arrived with the package, letter, and photos that were refused by the agent and sat down with Bernie while he pored over my images and the letter from the agent. After what seemed like an eternity Bernie said in a very soft voice “This agent is full of sh**, your composition is just fine – but your black and white printing really stinks.” He accepted me as a student and I can, with all feeling, state that the next three months were among the most delightful of my life.
Life never sits still for anyone, including me, and the corporation I worked for divested themselves of my entire division. In short order I found myself in St. Louis, Missouri working for the company that bought their central region. Among other things I found myself appointed advertising director as I was the only person present who had any idea about graphic arts and publishing. Over the next five years I created hundreds of photographs, all large format, and created ad’s and editorial copy that were published in hundreds of national and international magazines and books.
After five years I began to feel a deep and powerful urge to be once again in the desert and mountains of Arizona. So bidding adios to the cold winters of St. Louis I moved to the White Mountains of Arizona and devoted myself to photography and writing where during that period I was published by more than 60 mastheads, hundreds of articles and thousands of photographs. All very illustrative. I have since moved down into the desert where the winters are delightful and the summers are hell.
It has been a bit more than 18 years since I moved into the Valley of The Sun and in that time digital photography has been born and matured and I have embraced it as I have always embraced all forms of photography for I believe that it is the image that matters, not which brush was used to create it. I still have, and shoot, film from 4X5 to 35MM, and indeed sometimes combining them all with digital, after all, they are my brushes.
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