When I Press the Shutter, I Feel the Smile of God

Why do you snap a photo? Is it to preserve a memory or keep a record of possessions for the insurance guy? That’s how it was for me in the beginning. But I soon realized I loved taking photos. One day, as I clicked the shutter, I felt the smile of God. That’s when it hit me. I do photography because when I press the shutter, I feel the smile of God.

I didn’t start photography until I was 64. I remember the exact day. I’d been walking along the New Jersey coast and spotted a rare snowy owl. I pulled out my cellphone and took a photo. When I got home I enlarged the photo and my snowy owl turned into a collection of pixels. Two days later I purchase my first Nikon DSLR and I’ve been hooked ever since.

My journey into photography turned me into a believer of evolution. Why? Because I found myself rapidly evolving.

I started shooting wildlife photos. No bird or animal was safe from my shutter. But that got old. How many times can you photograph a bird? By the way. some people love bird photograph. I’m happy for them but it was no longer my passion.

I turned my attention to landscape photography. I still love a good landscape shot but that too became mundane. I realized many landscape photographers went to the same places and shot the same things. I mean, if you want a good photo of Mt. Rushmore you show up with your camera and the boys will be there waiting for you.

From landscapes I transitioned into portrait photography. I even had studio space. I loved it until I realized it made no difference if I liked the shot. Portrait photography was all about the client, not about the art. Too many times I’d show what I thought was a beautiful photo to a client, only to hear something like, “But I look…” I know professional photographers that edit photos to alter the looks of their clients. I just couldn’t go down that road.

I started to do event photography and enjoyed it. People are infinitely interesting. To capture candid shots of them at an event brought me joy. I still love the challenge of being in the right place at the right time to capture a special moment.

I then stumbled on street photography. I love taking candid shots of people in their natural environment. What is street photography? It’s simply getting out in the streets with a camera and having the guts to take photos. There’s joy in catching the “decisive moment” in a scene. It doesn’t matter if the person in the scene hates my photo. They may never even know their photo was taken. The purpose of the photo is to document a moment in time.

I’ve now come to embrace the label of documentary photographer. I document the world around me as I see it. I do it for pleasure and for hire. In the summer of 2023 I held an art exhibit which displayed my documentary work at the Prairie Ronde Art Gallery. You can read about that HERE. If you are interested in hiring me to document your world you can explore that option HERE.

I live in Kalamazoo County Michigan but shoot wherever I am.