I picked up a camera in 1995 when I turned 15 years old. Why? Had I been influenced by my Grandfather who was, at one point, a product photographer for Kodak? Maybe by my Father who was an amateur photographer, mostly taking pictures of his children and every so often, entering a calendar contest with one of his butterfly images. Either way, I think they both influenced me. When I was a child, maybe 7 years old, my Grandfather taught me a profound lesson in drawing. Just one. He drew a plastic jack-o-lantern decoration that was resting on our kitchen bay window. After all, it was Halloween. He spoke about form, depth, and perspective. I can remember him telling me to lock my wrist to draw a circle. I was in awe! In the coming years I drew everything from the Sunday comics to my He-Man action figures. Hell, I'm sure I drew a couple of my sister's My Little Pony toys. I couldn't get enough. Eventually, I started to draw live people. I guess I could finally consider myself an artist. I wasn't half bad! Within a few years I grew tired of drawing. I needed to branch out. A camera! It was, in my opinion, an inevitable transition. I wasn't good at painting because I couldn't control it like graphite. I didn't have the patience. It was a 35mm, Pentax P30T that fell into the price range my Father was willing to pay for something he wasn't sure I'd enjoy. But, he was so proud and excited I wanted to learn! He gave me all of his reference books that he had studied himself, full of side notes and highlighted sentences. We looked through his collection of slides multiple times. He was very proud of those as well. My parents were divorced and his slides were his jewels. Some of his most prized possessions. He would often become weepy while looking through the slides, sometimes projected on a white wall to save himself from the hassle of setting up the screen. We often bonded over our photos and spoke (almost a foreign language to some) about aperture, shutter speed, and f-stops. It was like our very own little club! I loved every minute of it. Even after his death in 2004, I've continued to take pictures all the while remembering our little "club." His slides? Well, they're my jewels now.