How I Caught the Photo Bug: News Editor Peter Walkowiak

Image Captured by a Pentax Optio S 3.2mp point and shoot camera.

I’ve been doing some form of art for quite some time now. As far back as I can remember, drawing used to be my creative outlet. Even though I had been doing it for a long time, it has always been awful. It was something I would do alone and be ashamed of. To this day I don’t think anyone has ever seen my old “art” and that makes me ecstatic.

As I grew up, drawing was abandoned for the adventure of finding something new. I’ve always needed to do something creative with my free time. Creating music was my biggest venture after drawing and this was even more embarrassing. I attempted singing, keyboard, bass guitar, but none of these were for me. Besides being completely awful I yearned for that sense of instant creation that drawing gave me. Then in 2004, I found photography.


Music took too long to learn and I was never known for my patience back then. I wanted something now and I wanted it to be amazing. The realization that I wasn’t a music prodigy hit me and I moved on. It was Christmas when my family was gifted a shiny silver Pentax Optio S 3.2mp point and shoot camera. I had shot with film cameras before but never felt the joy and power of photography until I had shot digital.

At the time my friends and I were starting to do plenty of road trips. I took the little Pentax with me and captured images along the way. I took a lot of photos and I took them without knowing anything about photography. I captured moments without thinking about settings and moved on when they didn’t come out as planned.

The moment I knew I was hooked wasn’t until I got home from my first road trip with the camera. I loaded the images into iPhoto and started to browse around and play with the editing features. I chose the image above and simply pressed the “Auto Enhance” button and watched iPhoto work its magic. When I was presented with the result I gasped because to me it really was magic. This was the “instant creation” that I had been looking for, this was the beginning of my biggest obsession.

Months and months later, the tools given to me were no longer “magical”. I learned the ins and outs of the camera as well as my software and wanted more. On Valentines Day 2005 I purchased my very first digital SLR camera from Ritz. The camera was my Nikon D50 which would take me thousands of miles and actuations over the next three years or so.

I’m self taught and I admit that there is still a lot of learning to do. When I started I didn’t have any role models or people to go to for help. For me it was a time where there wasn’t a lot of sharing and the giant known as Flickr was just starting. I learned most of what I know by being hands on and experimenting. For a long time I was ignorant to the limitless knowledge that awaited me on the internet. When I discovered new information, I spent most nights reading until I couldn’t see straight.

The rest is history and I’m so grateful for the passion that was found in photography. Part of me wishes I would have picked up a cheaper hobby but nothing is more fulfilling. In the early days of my personal website I used the slogan “we live in a beautiful world”. This was my mantra because all I wanted to do was share the beauty of my travels with anyone. I wanted people to know the great things that were waiting outside of our cities’ borders.

Images likes these remind me that it’s not about gear, it’s about everything else.


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