What lit your fire?

Do you remember taking the photograph that really ignited your passion for photography?  Not necessarily the one that made you think taking pictures was fun, but the one that made you think, even if it was in the deep recesses of your mind, "wow, that's good!".   

I was looking through some boxes the other day and found a framed print of that photograph for me.  Here's the story behind it...

The photograph that started it all.  Hatteras Island, North Carolina

The starting point for me.  Fisherman at the Point, Hatteras Island, North Carolina.  Unedited Kodak film scan.

It was maybe 2000 or 2001, I can't remember the year specifically, but I do remember that it was a cold December morning.  I speak of my love for Hatteras Island, NC on this blog quite often, but it did (and still does) play an important role in my life.  During that time, my friends and I would often go down for a night or two at a time, or sometimes a whole week.  During our Christmas break from high-school or college we would ususally rent a cheap house for a week and go down to surf and goof off (we were actually good kids, so our parents allowed us to, and usually a couple of our dads would join us in the high school years).  But anyway, it was a cold December morning and the wind was howling.  The waves were too choppy to surf so after doing our pre-dawn surf check we decided to drive to a place known as "the Point" which is a part of the barrier island that quickly changes direction in the shoreline.  Sometimes leaving the sea in confusion with two currents that meet and create waves that smash together.  It's also a very good fishing spot, and before the government shut down most access to it a few years ago, it was almost always crowded with fisherman 

Fisherman at The Point, Hatteras, North Carolina

An image from the point (on a different day) around 2004, when fisherman were given access to drive out and fish this spot.  

The story behind the actual taking of the photo is pretty non-eventful. I was driving in my dad's old Ford Expedition with the 4-wheel drive in gear, I saw this scene, quickly rolled down the window and took a couple photos with my Nikon F100.  I knew it was a decent photo because lighting and the crashing waves, but it wasn't until I received the prints back from the photo lab in Virginia Beach that I really fell in love with the image.  

This was the first time I saw something greater than just taking pictures.  At the risk of wading into cheesy metaphors, it was the first time I really saw something bigger than myself in the photos.  Something that could be aspired to through a photograph.  Something that showed me that I had "an eye" for photography, as the lab technician, Chuck, always used to tell me but I never put much credence to as a teenager.

It was the starting point for not just a hobby, but a passion that would eventually take me all over the world and help me do what I am doing today.  

Now mind you, its not a perfect photograph - it may not even be a good photo to you.  With it I didn't reach some nirvana that suddenly allowed me to realize my full artistic potential.  No, none of that happened.  It was just a small moment, that helped push me in a different direction than I might have gone otherwise.  Until I found it a few weeks ago, I didn't really realize it had that much of an impact on me.  But I've found that those tend to be the most influentials moments - the ones that present themselves and you don't fully comprehend them at the time.  

Fishing at the Point, Hatteras Island, North Carolina.  Photograph by David Rathbone

Another photograph from that morning.  I made three photos that morning. Though I like the other two, they don't hold the same meaning as the first photograph.  Unedited Kodak film scan.  

So enough about me.  What is your starting point?  What lit the photographic fire for you?  What's the photograph that allowed you to peek behind the curtain of your creativity?  The one that made you say, "Yes, I want to do more of this".   I'd love to hear more of your stories.  Leave a message in the comments or shoot me an email, david@saw-mitre.com.



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published