PHOTOGRAPHY: WHEN, WHERE AND HOW IT BEGAN

Janeen Gyps smile 6 5 03 rs mbEveryone asks me when I started being interested in Photography? Thinking back I believe it all started with my love for music. When I was very little, probably about 3 years old, we had radios then and no television in sight. We listened to Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy and such, for entertainment and laughter, but I loved music most of all and music is an art. My Mother said I could listen to a song a couple of times on the radio and sing it from memory. So maybe my love for the arts began there. Something that flows and goes inside of you that never stops. Much to the family’s chagrin I then learned to whistle. It wasn’t enough that I sang like a bird all the time, but then I began to whistle. My stepdad’s Mother was a bit superstitious and she told me this: Whistling girls and crowing hens, always come to some bad end. Nevertheless, I kept whistling and singing. I can’t remember when Photography gripped me but I remember loving to pour over photos, ours as well as other friends.  Even when I went into a stranger’s home, photos on the mantel drew me. I wanted to look at them and I studied them for hours asking lots of questions. They intrigued me. One older lady I met on occasion when we visited, (but really didn’t know her that well although everyone was called Aunt and Uncle in those days or Grandma), Grandma Hollaway, she had photos everywhere on her old antique furniture, all over her house. I used to long to go there just to look at her photos.  I was a child that could have been playing when adults were visiting, but I entertained myself looking at photos. So thus began my love for photography. It wasn’t until I was grown, married and had a family and a business, which held me back from doing the other art work I loved (Oil Painting,) that my husband purchased a very sophisticated camera and told me it would fill in for the lack of time I had for other arts, and he felt I had talent, which could grow, and I could continue to do what I loved, capturing something illusive and holding onto it for centuries to come.  Preserving memories is a priceless treasure.  I had been using an antique Argus 35 mm camera and I had been practicing, and I did love it.  Now I started all over with the Canon AE-1 Program model he bought me, and the fever began and so did the grueling work of learning more than just having the eye for a photo and burning film. New lenses, new equipment added, depths I never imagined existed in the real world of Photography. I wasn’t afraid to shoot shoot shoot and fail and try again. I burned film and I tried everything and I read everything I could get my hands on. I talked to others, and took advice, but mostly I worked by the seat of my britches and through grueling trial and error I progressed. I believe that nothing in life is free and everything worth having is worth working towards. I am not afraid to work either, and work I did .  Good libraries were in, and Internet was not, in those days. I had a good library. I soaked it up like a sponge and my love grew for this art of Photography. I rarely looked at the world without looking through a lens and when I wasn’t looking through the lens in actuality, in my mind’s eye I was. Sometimes I would make a tunnel with my hand so I could see how it would look through the viewfinder of a camera.  I took hundreds or even thousands of shots without camera in hand or film, and savored the growth that led me back to do it for real the next time. Some prime shots were lost because I did it without the equipment in hand, but I learned just the same. Two cameras later and lots of equipment in my bag, lots of film and negatives to deal with – next enter the digital world. I started out easy and decided I would do it for just me. I was selling some of my work and entering competitive exhibits with some success by that time with my old Canons, but so what? Time for a new leap of faith?  Times were changing and film cameras were about to become a thing of the past. I seem to be prone to leap and start all over from zero.  I figured I could go back to zero and take baby steps and  just enjoy it, even if I never “got it down”, so what did I have to lose but time sweat, blood and $$$? I purchased a Sony Mavica (which now is obsolete) and I started all over in a small way.  That was when my good friend Judy Frasch whets my appetite by sharing her new camera and convincing me I had it in me to grow up from baby steps into the Nikon D-90, with the same drive, vision and work I had put into the old film excursions and she was sure I could master it. She believed in me and it was something we could share.  Little did I know what she was enticing me into and little did I understand the digital world I would be getting into.  The struggles I passed through, to where I now feel able to venture out again and produce affordable quality work for someone to enjoy is indescribable by pen, tongue or computer keys, so I will spare you that. I will confess that there were times I wanted to trash it all and give up, I am too old for this I told myself, but “self” argued, “you aren’t a quitter, so “self” kept plodding and the love rose up and the fever pitched higher, until I bought another Nikon, a conglomeration of new lenses and lighting equipment, took some on line courses, and hounded my friend Kelly Buck to death ( my Professional Photographer friend who never gives up on me even when I am pretty thick headed and set in my ways) In spite of the obstacles and the labor,  today I am still growing, still learning and I hope by sharing it even on this website it will bring pleasure to others and encourage them to endure the struggles to grow and do what you love and then gulp away the jitters about sharing it. It is all a process.  I hope I can continue to grow  forward to keep producing quality pieces of real art, to share here in this manner; pieces that others will consider an honor to display on the walls of their office or in their homes.  My mentors, and best cheering section were good friends, Arlene Penhallegon, Judy Frasch, and Kelly Buck who stood by me, bearing the load of critiquing, guiding, encouraging; propping me up again and again. However, it was my best friend, cowboy, and husband who believed that I could do anything I set my mind to, and nudged me to go out there and try, he is the one that really did the first ground work towards the major leap into the Photography world. He was my first mentor that got me past the “gulp” and “gulf” that separated me from something I so enjoyed, yet shrank away from.  He taught me that to fail is to fail to try. I think he would be glad to see me taking the steps I have taken. I can see his blue eyes sparkling and saying… GO FOR IT.  Now I am sharing with those that want to see what I love and where I have evolved. Those who want to see my life through my camera lens. ENJOY even as a visitor, please enjoy. Publicly I want to thank Arlene, Judy, Kelly and others that have continually encouraged me to keep on keeping on.  (Janeen Jackson, BarJ3 Productions)

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