001 - First Steps
Throughout most of my life I had always enjoyed "taking pictures" but it was never anything more than a passing interest, to be dabbled in here and there and never taken too terribly seriously. Then, just more than two years ago I began an unexpected journey which led me down new paths in life, and which continues still today.
Late in 2014 I was graced with the good fortune to take on responsibility as a lead for an international project for my employer. In November of that year I got my first taste of Dublin, Ireland - albeit briefly and consisting mostly of the hotel and our local office - and in December I spent a week in Lund, Sweden. At that point I was simply trying to enjoy the experience of traveling to new places while also not losing my mind as I was quickly thrown into uncharted waters - for me - with the work project. I happily snapped several pictures with my phone to share with family and friends and didn't think much of it.
In March of 2015 I returned to Ireland, spending two weeks in our local office which gave me a weekend to myself. I had already been exploring Portmarnock beach near my hotel during the first week and spent my free Saturday walking nearly five miles along the coast to the town of Malahide. The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery, and I likely took well over 100 pictures with my phone (for what it's worth, the phone was a Lumia 1520 with its 20mp camera... a shockingly capable device for capturing my surroundings).
On that Sunday, I had an experience that would begin to drastically shift my level of interest in photography.
Northern Ireland, near Carrickarede Island
A couple days prior I had pored over a large number of travel brochures for several hours in an attempt to find a once-in-a-lifetime experience and take full advantage of my free time during the trip, and I finally settled on a day trip by way of tour bus to Northern Ireland. What unfolded before me over the course of the 12 hour tour were simply the most stunning landscapes I had ever seen. Rolling hills, castle ruins, a dizzying rope bridge, sheer cliffs, crashing waves; nearly a sensory overload while attempting to experience and absorb it all and capture the experience through photos as best as I could. I don't know that there are words that can adequately describe how I felt throughout that day but I can still vividly recall the emotions that coursed through me as one amazing view after another unfolded before my eyes.
Needless to say, I got good use out of the camera on my phone that day.
Fast forward to my return home to Texas and I started reviewing everything I captured along the coast near Portmarnock and during my trip north, and I found myself not quite able to believe that I, he of no real experience with photography (as opposed to taking pictures), had captured the images on the screen in front of me. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of duds but, of the ones that stood out, they really stood out. Not only was I impressed with what I managed to capture but I was also surprised to find myself revisiting at least a small part of the experience, the emotions, of being there. And it seemed my friends and family were feeling the same as I shared my favorite images on social media.
Soon, I was subscribed to Adobe's Photography plan through their Creative Cloud and I was fumbling my way around Lightroom, finding ways to make those captures even more impressive (or so I thought at the time - my initial over-zealousness for editing later made me cringe and I redid all of them). Regardless of what I think of those initial edits today, the comments and feedback from those with whom I shared my images was such that - ever so slightly - I began to think perhaps I actually had some talent with this photography thing. I also found myself desperately wishing I had had any idea of what I would experience beforehand, and known to go out and purchase a "real" camera before heading overseas.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Although I had spent a fair amount of time exploring and capturing pictures around me in Texas after moving from the Midwest in 2012, it was in Ireland where I first began to find myself drawn to photography, not just capturing pictures but doing so in a form that would let me revisit experiences and emotions, and share those feelings with others through the lens of my camera.
My journey into the world of photography is still continuing but it truly began in Ireland.
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