Last Updated on 05/01/2013 by Chris Gampat
All throughout my childhood I can recall a camera being present at most family functions, sometimes I’d even be the one to “press the button”. If only I’d known how important that shutter button would become to me in the future. Fast-forward to my 8th grade year (which would be around mid-1998) and I had signed up to be part of the school yearbook. This marked the first time I would be intentionally setting out to take photos and begin to document life happening around me. I’ve always been something of an outsider (though I prefer to call myself a keen observer) and suddenly having a camera in my hand opened my eyes to an entirely new world of creativity.
That first year I only used my mom’s point-and-shoot camera, which obviously had limited capabilities, but it was enough to get me interested in taking the next step. Something worth mentioning is that up to this point, skateboarding was a big part of my life, to the effect that my entire thought process revolved around the action-sports industry and it would continue to be a central part of my being into my 20s. Once I began high school, my interest in photography began to grow. I wanted to photograph my friends while we were out skating, but I was becoming increasingly frustrated with trying to capture action on my mom’s unfortunately sluggish point-and-shoot.
Understanding my frustration, my dad dug out his old Pentax MX and showed me how to operate the basics of this all-mechanical marvel. Suddenly I had the ability to control more of the camera and I was just completely over-joyed. Naturally I had no idea what any of the numbers meant on the lens or the camera body. All I knew was what my dad told me: “Just make sure the light is green on the inside”. Simple instructions for a simple camera.
Through high school I took the photography courses and had a truly wonderful mentor for a teacher that really invested the time to help me learn how to control my camera and be able to understand all of the mechanics of image-making. It was this instructor that inspired me to pursue photography in college and build a career out of it. The first camera that became truly my own was a Canon EOS Elan 7, which set the stage for me to build upon the Canon ecosystem over the next 10+ years. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me as an image-maker.
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