Art leads you to a new perception, to a new way of seeing, of thinking. Can photography do that? Most certainly it can, at least in my humble opinion.
Since my youth on our dairy farm, I wandered around with a camera whenever I had a free moment. If I didn’t have a free moment I would steal one just to be out with the camera. We had plenty of chores on the farm, but since there were many of us, I always had subjects for portraits from our very real life.
I liked to walk alone a lot, or, I should say, I loved to walk on our fields, along the river bank, through the woods, accompanied with our dog and even some of our cats. I sat by the river and occasionally was visited by a hesitant fawn or watched the otters play in their own form of Splash.
After graduation from high school, where I served two years as photographer for the year book, I decided I wasn’t ready for college yet. So I traveled. My sister and my brother-in-law were in the Peace Corps in Liberia, Africa, so I saved money for a ticket to travel there. We lived in a small jungle town where nights were accented by drumming from various points of town to keep us advised of safety. An occasional jungle cat would come to the edge of town but the smoldering fires kept them at a distance.
I learned that I didn’t like to kill chickens, I much preferred eating them. I learned that people are the same everywhere. I had my one friend, but because language was an issue, we might sit in a tree near the house for hours finding a way to communicate about our families, our life, our interests. We had a little spider monkey that used to hold on to my ankle as I went about my day.
I did have a camera then, but getting film was not an easy thing in our small town, so I ended up with very few images to show after my return. I had planned to stay for some time, independently, or indefinitely. Until I came down with malaria. That changed things for me, so I traveled (once I was able) to Europe with my sister and brother-in-law where as it was predicted, the cold winter weather got me back my appetite and I began to recover.
I lived on the East Coast of the US for awhile, then traveled again: along the coast to Florida; Northwest Territories in Canada; California, Arizona, the Grand Canyon. Then, across the big water again to South Korea where I lived for nearly two years. When I returned, I finally made the decision to go to art school and study photography seriously.
What did that get me? It led me to a very interesting life. I continued to travel and eventually began to work in travel, writing about my trips along with the photographs I took. That led me to Mexico. I was already traveling here as often as possible, but my first time to Puerto Vallarta, I was totally enamored. Walking along the Malecón that very first day, I knew I had come home.
And so I’ve been here now over 26 years. Before I became established as a photographer, I worked as an English teacher. That opened the doors to me to some of the people here who are still my friends. I worked in the local and international media for awhile, primarily for magazines, covering cultural events and more in Puerto Vallarta, while traveling as often as I could for travel magazines.
There came a time when I realized to really put down roots here, I had to take certain things more seriously: my family life; the language; the local culture and people. Enough of travel already! (Well, not totally. But it is true that since my daughter was born eight years ago, I have only left Vallarta for travel, even work, a limited number of times.) Last summer she and I took our first serious trip together, to Mexico City, which she truly fell in love with…I see more travel in our future.