Brian K. Donnelly
When I was young, my father was a computer scientist and hobbyist photographer. We travelled often, mostly camping, and he always had his Topcon SLR at the ready. He shot slides exclusively, and we all looked forward to breaking out the projector as soon as his slides came back from the lab. As time passed, my older brother became interested in photography. With my dad, he converted the basement bathroom (my bathroom) into a darkroom. I can still remember the smell of the chemicals. I watched, but didn't participate. I stuck with my pocket instamatic, and went the computer science route.
My pursuit of photography came with marriage and the birth of our daughter. My wife and I bought an Olympus digital camera back when digital was an oddity. It was a 0.8mp pocket camera, with no zoom, no modes, no features whatsoever. After our son was born, I stepped up to an SLR: a Minolta X-370. Back on film, I was now producing photos worthy of an album. And I was spending a lot on lab services while I learned. I found I would shoot several rolls of film at an event, then debate over paying for rush developing. I didn't have the patience to wait to see what came out. After several years, the accessibility of quality digital photographic equipment changed the economics enough to send my X-370 into retirement. I went digital with a Canon D30, a 3.3mp digital SLR. I was free (literally) to shoot all I wanted. I practiced, studied, and learned, completing the transition from taking pictures to taking photographs. Over eight years my D30 and I captured over 40,000 images. Now I shoot with a variety of wonderful Canon professional-grade digital SLRs, and I have handed down the D30 to my son. The legacy continues.
In considering the focus for my professional photography practice, I thought for a long time about what compels me in taking photographs. Looking back through my catalog, the images of which I am most proud are candid portraits. The photographer wife of an encouraging friend specializes in candid portraiture; she is a gifted artist whose work I admire greatly. I have returned to her on-line portfolio dozens of times, studying her photographs and feeling more encouraged and inspired each time. Like her, I am compelled to find and capture the natural, unstaged emotion in people as they go through their lives, from the daily grind to once-in-a-lifetime events. I allow that the ideal photograph is one that makes the viewer feel something - a blend of what the subject felt and some feeling of their own.
My brother and I shoot together now. In fact, he is my partner for wedding photography. The blend is ideal. We each see subjects just a little differently, yielding a more complete reflection of the wedding, the people, and the emotion. Yet we know each other like only brothers do, and work together fluidly.
My dad has long since shelved his Topcon and like my brother, moved to Nikon digital. Dad doesn't shoot professionally, but he shoots a lot. Mom and Dad travel often, mostly camping, and he always has his Nikon at the ready. No more projector, but the family still looks forward to seeing his photographs at the end of a trip.