When I was seventeen years old I got on a yellow school bus for the first time in my life and headed off to Nathan Hale, the third and final high school I attended in my teen years.
I was nervous for a lot of things…would the other kids like me. Where would I eat lunch. Was this outfit as cool as I though it was this morning. What would my classes be like.
One class in particular had captured most of my thoughts. Photography class. I had signed up for it because an art credit was required and frankly I was too embarrassed by how terrible at art I was to do something like paint in public.
I was excited for photography though. More excited for that class then anything else about going to a new school. As that yellow school bus crossed the Ballard Bridge I snapped photos in my mind. I noticed the rose bush that blurred by, the kids running in the field to the left, the sun reflecting off a lazing sailboat.
After I had shot my first roll of film I found myself in the dark room a week later. I stood in front of my enlarger carefully watching the timer tick down. I placed the paper in each of the chemicals like you were supposed to. Then it happened…my entire life changed. I will never forget the magic of that first photograph in the developer. Never forget how the image slowly appeared. A picture of my brother sitting on the steps with a skateboard in our back yard. I actually teared up a little. I was euphoric. This was the closest thing to a miracle that I had ever witnessed. From then on I was hooked.
I remember bringing that first photo to Mr. Kuhns. He gave me 50 out of 50 points and wrote “Very Nice!” on the back.
Mr. Kuhns was the best teacher I ever had. He believed I could do photography so I did it.
He put my work in gallery shows. When I decided that I wanted to intern for a photographer as my senior project he helped me put together a portfolio. When I told him that I thought I maybe wanted to do photography with my life he told me to go to The Brooks Institute of Photography.
So I did go to Brooks. My mom and I got on a plane and visited the school and I came home sunburned and convinced. He went with me to pick out my first digital camera that was required for my new school.
Mr. Kuhns gave me the tools to do what I love in life…and that is all you could ever ask for in a teacher.
A few weeks ago he said that his two granddaughters were in town and that he wanted me to photograph them. I leaped at the chance.
That shoot meant more to me than I can explain. It felt like coming around full circle. Going back to my roots. It reminded me of when I first fell in love with photography. Mr. Kuhns and his lovely wife came to the studio for the image premier and I was shaking with nerves. I wanted to do a good job on this…wanted them to still think that I could do photography. I felt like I was 17 and in high school again. When they liked the pictures I was so happy. He always thought I could do photography….so I do.