When I Grow Up

I had a LOT of interests as a kid. To be honest, I don't even think I realized just how broad these interests ranged.

 

Science and Electronics

As a young boy I absolutely loved exploring the world of science and electronics. I'd come home from school to watch The Curiosity Show or go outside and build motorized cars out of a block of wood, some wheels and an axle off another toy, a small motor and a D-sized battery.

I'll never forget the day that I had an assignment to do for school (aged 11 or 12) and I had completely forgotten all about it. On the morning I was meant to present I grabbed a long toilet roll, some aluminium foil, a small light bulb, a couple of batteries, and headed off to class. When it was my turn I strolled up to the front of the classroom and promptly demonstrated how to make a torch out of these individual components. I don't think the teacher was very impressed and was marked accordingly. Personally, I think I should have been given top marks for thinking on my feet and presenting without cue cards.

My interest in electronics eventually went much further. In my early teens I was building kit house and car alarms, electronic egg timers, sirens, radios, precision stop watches and more. At one stage I was even making my own circuit boards.

I don't do a lot of this these days, but I still recall most of the basic theory. This knowledge definitely helps when it comes to optimizing solar energy to charge batteries when out camping, but that's another story.

 

Photography

I was 12 when I was given a camera to take on a school excursion to the snow. I can recall this trip so vividly and I'm certain it is because I had a camera in my hand. I returned home with so many photographs - well, it seemed like a lot back then.

This exposure (pun intended) to photography definitely fired up my interest in capturing images of everything around me. For years to follow I would photograph pets, flies (macro), flowers, buildings, gardens, lakes, birthday parties, school events, and any other outing I was able to tag along to.

It wasn't until my late teens (after a bought a car) that I discovered photographing landscapes would be my ultimate passion. I lived only an hours drive away from several great hiking tracks that led to waterfalls so I spent many weekends exploring them.

For several years I used an old garden shed (taped up with black plastic)) to dabble in processing my own black & white negatives and printing my own images. Just thinking about it now, I can still "smell" the chemicals. Yes, that was a lot of fun at the time.

 

Martial Arts

Apart from a little bit of running, softball, and hockey I didn't do a lot of sport at school. I was never really any good at it.

In my late teens, however, I was introduced to Taekwondo and found it quite rewarding. I was being taught the basics by two black belt friends at the time so it was more of a self-defense type training.

Some 15 or more years later I discovered Hapkido, which I practiced for several years. I was one belt away from getting my Black Belt before I had a neck injury and was forced to stop training.

A few years later I decided to practice Karate (at a very reduced capacity and under doctor's guidance). I wanted to try something different, learn something new. I practiced this for several years but, again, missed out on getting my Black Belt due to moving away from the area.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't practicing martial arts for the belts. It was a great way to keep fit as well as learn and practice courtesy, integrity, humility, and self control. But after all of those years of training it would have been nice.

 

So What Should I do?

During my school years I didn't even think about working as a full-time photographer because (at the time) I considered it more of a hobby.

I wasn't financially in a position to go to University so computer programming seemed to be out of reach. I applied for several operator type jobs but nothing ever came to fruition.

For similar reasons, electronics also seemed to be out of reach. I applied for dozens of jobs trying to get a position that would allow me to work for half the year and study the remainder but I didn't even get any interviews.

I considered joining the air force to be an Airborne Electronics Analyst but was told I couldn't do that because I wore glasses. Several years later I was told I had been misinformed but by then it was too late.

I decided to apply for any job that came up until I could work out how I was going to move forward with my career interests. After a few short weeks I found an advertisement for a trainee position as a Pathology Technical Officer in a local public hospital. I honestly had no idea what Pathology was so I looked up the definition at the local library (this was 10 years prior to Google) and then applied. Out of some 300+ applicants I was successful in being offered the position.

The next 12 years paved my future.

  • I spent the first 4 years studying several nights each week as part of the trainee-ship;
  • After qualifying as a Pathology Technician (with honors, first in NSW) I took advantage of several opportunities at work to further enhance my skill set in the area of OH&S, management and quality control;
  • In 1990 I began tutoring mathematics one-on-one to earn some additional income;
  • I spent just about every lunch break reading any book I could find on the subject of software development and, in particular, the C language.

When I started tutoring I established a small "hobby" business to report my income and offset my expenses. I took this as an opportunity to further embrace my photography interests and so started shooting portraits, weddings, and doing a little bit of digital photo editing. I even managed to score a few contract programming related jobs.

As you can probably imagine, I was time-saturated. If I wasn't working, I was tutoring. When I wasn't tutoring I was shooting a wedding. And when I wasn't shooting I was building upon my programming skills. I was lucky to get 4 hours sleep most nights. It was time for me to find a computer programming job.

 

My Change In Career 

In 1999, I finally got the break I had been waiting for since 1987. Although I had no formal qualifications I was given an opportunity to work for a Company as a software developer. This change in career was the trigger for me to change focus and reduce the time I was spending away from my family.

It was a tough choice to stop tutoring, and an even tougher choice to stop shooting weddings. I thoroughly enjoyed both activities. But, computer programming was my (career) passion so this had to take priority.

This new job worked out quite well. I gained a lot of experience and used the time to continue educating myself beyond the boundaries of what my daily job entailed.

In 2011 I was asked by another Company to join them. On one hand it was a great opportunity to gain new, and broader, experience but on the other it would involve moving the entire family over 300km - and I was scared-stupid of failing and not having another job to come back to. I'm still with this Company today.

 

Where Does Photography Fit In?

When I left school I already had my mind set on being a computer programmer. I simply hadn't given consideration to being a self-employed photographer. In a way it's probably a good thing because I probably would have become a full-time wedding photographer (which is fun) instead of a weekend landscape photographer (which is a lot more fun).

I'm really enjoying the relaxed travels in our caravan and impromptu landscape shoots in our local area. Its so great to get out and explore new photographic opportunities and compositions. I get a lot of positive feedback about my images and so that makes me even happier.

If you see something you like in my gallery be sure to know that all profits from sales are put directly back into the photography so I can continue bringing you even more inspiring photographs.