Up until now this website has been a place for me to share my photography. For a few years now I’ve been sharing a daily photo and writing a few thoughts to go along with it. I really enjoy sharing my passion for photography with you so thanks for stopping by. Starting today I’m going to add another dimension to it in the form of a longer posts about photography. It just seems like a fun thing to do and the next step in the evolution of my photography. It’s easy to follow me and my photos daily. Everyday I posts to my portfolio here (and the menu above) as well as a lot of social media sites.
So, without further adieu, here we go.
To start I thought it might be a good idea to share a little about myself, an introduction if you will.
Even though I do photography almost every day I am still learning all the time. Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture, like making a meal. How it turns out depends on your skills, experience and tastes. Along the way I’m learning a few tricks and techniques that reflect my own tastes and vision. There is always more to know. I relish the journey and the everyday learning and experiences that photography brings me.
Heaven knows there are a lot of folks that write about photography, from the details of the gear, techniques to improve, to inspired writings on photography as art. So why would I write want to add to all that? As I share my experiences I suspect I’ll learn more through the process of writing it down and sometimes you’ll connect with what I have to say, and through that we’ll create a bond and sense of community.
So who am I, this man behind these photos? Well my name is Rick Schwartz. I am married to a lovely lady, I have a grown son who has his own career, and I love animals; I have a cat and a dog who are my two best friends.
I live in Florida, which becomes obvious when you see some of my photos. However I was born and raised in California. For my formative years I lived in or near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I was a Boy Scout and as I grew up I camped and backpacked quite a bit. That instilled in me a love for the outdoors that I still have and which helps explain my love of landscape photography.
As a teenager I discovered computer programming and for whatever reason I was good at it. That later turned into a career that continues to this day. When I’m writing software I get to a place in my head where time seems to stand still. Hours can pass before I know it. For me writing software it’s not only about solving a problem, it’s also about aesthetics. I know this is going to sound strange, but I strive to create computer code that is pleasing to look at. You’re probably scratching your head wondering how software can be pleasing to look at. Well, if you think about it, you could apply that same idea to just about anything. An architect can come up with an elegant design, a chef can create a gourmet dish and a computer programmer can write beautiful code.
I write programs my grandmother (rest her soul) could read. I take problems and decompose them and then rearrange the blocks in a simple, logical, step-by-step way that creates an elegant solution to something that started out looking really hard. This is a creative process and it’s the part of my career that I enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction out of. This is a way of thinking, it’s how I’ve trained my mind, and I believe that some of that same creativity and appreciation for aesthetics carries over into my photography.
Regarding my personality I’m a little shy and reserved. I gravitate to things that keep me out of the limelight. I’m not sure where I get that, but I think half of us are outgoing and the other half reserved. But really it’s more varied than that. When teaching programming or working with a client I can seem outgoing and talkative. So we all have different aspects to ourselves, but if I had to boil it all down to a single word I would be shy or reserved, yet occasionally outgoing when the need arises.
Having said that, when I write about something as creative as photography, my thoughts and musings are a little freer to come out. So you’ll pick up things about me along the way, that’s inevitable. Whether it’s a photo, a caption or a longer story about my passion for photography, you won’t have to look too far to pick up on who I am and what I’m thinking.
How did I get into photography?
I was thinking about this the other day and mentioned it to my wife. She said something I didn’t expect, that I always had it in me. Like so many other things, I think she was right. I always had a love of photography but it was forgotten for a long while.
Years ago in the 1980s I used to shoot and develop film. I had a dark room and all the equipment I needed to process film and produce prints. I use to love to take pictures of people, streets and landscapes. When I lived in California I would go to Yosemite to take photos of the waterfalls. When I lived in Long Island in New York and I remember taking pictures of the sailboats along the shore, villages and occasionally portraits. It was a big effort to maintain the equipment and a darkroom, but I was hooked, it was a passion and I did it as much as I could. As I moved from city to city for my career in software, all of the equipment and artifacts of photography slowly fell away. Life moved in, I moved on. The passion receded as I became involved in life, friends, career and family. When cameras started going digital there was a lot of hype that it would replace film. But like all hype, the reality took longer to realize. Fast-forward to today and of course it’s a completely different world.
One night a few years ago while sitting up in bed trying to fall asleep I was browsing the Internet on my iPad. I ran across some photos by Trey Ratcliff. Whatever photo I first saw intrigued me because I pressed the next button, then I did it again, and again and again. I became spellbound by what I was seeing in photo after photo. I clicked to his website and came to realize that what I was looking at was digital photography with post processing. Sometime during the last couple of decades it became possible to create beautiful digital photography. Actually, knew it was possible, I have a friend that has shot digital for years, but for whatever reasons it never really registered with me. Perhaps I wasn’t ready. However now it finally hit me that the hype had finally turned to reality. So night after night I would go back at stare at those landscape photos, I thought it was pretty cool. At that time I didn’t realize it but the long forgotten passion inside was beginning to stir once again.
Also, around the same time, I was traveling a lot for my job. At night I’d be back at the hotel, working out in the gym, reading books or walking around for exercise. For a while now I was feeling like something was missing or that I was out of step with something. As I analyze it now, I realize that this feeling had been percolating just under the surface for years. It’s an odd feeling but I think many of us feel it at one time or another. Yet I still couldn’t put my finger on it so I paid it little heed. This is just about the time when it all came together for me, most certainly because I was just about ready for it.
One night I had an epiphany that forced the subject of photography to the forefront. I was reading a book from an author by the name Anita Moorjani entitled Dying to Be Me. In the book she chronicles her personal journey overcoming cancer. It’s a transformative story and I highly recommend it whether or not you’ve struggled with disease. Now I’m paraphrasing, but in the book she said that our true nature is an unstoppable creative energy, and that if we don’t let it flow out of us, it can turn in on itself which can lead to problems, health or otherwise. Her life is a living testament to this and it struck a chord with me and resonated in a powerful way.
It’s funny because I can still remember the feeling I had when I read it, it was an “ah ha” moment. Certainly others have said similar things in similar ways, but for me, at that exact moment, it just clicked (no pun intended). My very next thought was that my creativity had been stifled in the process of living my life, that I had a passion for photography and that it was a creative force inside me that most certainly needed to flow again. I didn’t think, “oh that’s nice, I should do photography, wouldn’t it be nice?” No, it was an undeniable statement coming from inside me. I might sound a little strange I’ll admit. But with that affirmation of what I was about to do, creative energy started flowing inside of me once again. It was a quite a rush because it felt final and I was so excited I could not sleep that night.
Seeing Trey’s photos and reading Anita’s words reawakened creative energy that I already had inside. To this day, just like that evening in the hotel, I continue to get charged up about photography. I have to be careful because if I start looking at photos just before I go to bed it’s like drinking a double espresso. My mind starts running a million miles a minute and sleep is impossible. It’s funny and yet it’s just one indication of how photography affects me. There’s a lot more but these are the Cliff notes.
That’s how I got back into photography. I have always loved it, and for me it’s a way to be creative. Fast-forward from that night to now and a lot has happened. Photography is back in my life and it has become a business as well that goes by the name Just Enough Focus. I license images and sell prints, but I have kept the business to a minimum for the time being while I work on some things behind the scenes. I lean more towards the artistic pursuit of the medium and I have a few ideas as to where I’ll take it, or should I say, where it will take me.
That’s me in a nutshell, at least as it relates to photography. Photography is an all-consuming passion, and the more I feed the muse the stronger it gets. Is that cool or what?
So this was the first of my expanded posts. Now that we have the how-do-you-do’s out of the way I can get down to the business of writing about what I love to do. I have a few ideas of what I’ll write about next, ideas and thoughts that are just waiting to get out. Rest assured it will be something fun and maybe we will all learn a little something together.
Catch you on the flip side!