Photography by Steve Lathan
It was around 1975 I bought my first camera, an Olympus OM1N 35mm film camera. A camera that I love and it still works fine. The idea that I could stop time in a split second and capture an ever unfolding story that would become timeless captivated me. These origins could be traced back to a single picture I had seen growing up, of my father as a young man standing next to his 1927 Harley Davidson dressed in attire of the period. Its power generated by the fact that I was born when my father was 41 and that lone single image spoke volumes of information to me about him as a young man.
Learning with film at times seemed such a difficult task. I acquired books ,magazines and went to shows . Eventually I accumulated boxes of Popular Photography magazines. I went to see an exhibit of Eugene Atgets pictures in San Francisco and his work stunned me , actually it leveled me. His pictures where unique, beautiful and undeniably his alone. Clearly he had found his own photographic expression or as writers say , he had found his voice. One thing became very clear to me , besides his beautiful pictures , I realized I would need to find my own photographic voice. So began my journey into learning to see and finding my personal expression of what I was seeing . I went to see Ansel Adams pictures at Yosemite . From reading about him and viewing his work it became clear why he said a good photograph is knowing where to stand.. There I also got to see a wonderful young mans pictures named Galen Rowell. His pictures are simply beautiful.
I feel the best camera ever created is the human eye and learning to see a life long experience. With this in mind I began to venture into the three basics of photography, composition , aperture and exposure. Exposing a roll of film and waiting for it to be developed while remembering what you had done with the camera was just a factual way of life back then. Tedious it did accomplish one thing , and that is , it taught you photography if you wanted to progress. With the goal in mind of learning to see, while using the camera to capture what my eyes were viewing and my heart was feeling , I pushed on . I believe three things are at work in every great image.... your heart , your eyes and the camera. You really cant have one without the other.
By the time the digital age came along I had acquired a medium format Mamiya 645 and a Sekonic light meter to go along with it. . I was happy with film . In fact I still think it looks beautiful . All my film gear I kept and it still works fine.I bought my first digital camera, a Rebel and loved the ease of use. I have continued on with Canon to this day. I also have found my voice and who I am as a photographer. Frankly this was a giant relief to me and its so freeing to just do what you do knowing you've produced what you were trying to say. So I am comfortable with what I see and what I am saying with my photographs. I believe learning to see is a life long process. I also feel a picture should hold an ongoing ability to say something to us, to carry on its relevance if you will . The art of seeing grows as I journey on , the whole phenomena then between the myself and the object captured is a relationship.