Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Before I ever became a photographer, I took photographs. It was 1979, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, a young missionary nurse back from Zaire offered me her Pentax K1000. The introduction lead to a fevered courtship and falling in love. I'd never known a 35 mm camera and our first year was all about passion and little on technique. You just did it for the pleasure of it.
I was working an a Staff Member for an evangelical, non-denominational collegiate organization called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. My job was to travel to college campuses in Indiana to either establish a community of Christian students who would evangelize their peers or to encourage existing groups in their Christian life, leading Bible studies, teaching at conferences, demonstrating how you would approach a stranger and share the gospel of Christ.
This, I might add, was all during my twenties and period of my life when I was buried deep in the gay closet. The possibility of leading a happy and "gay" life seemed entirely unreal to me, like living on the moon without a spacesuit.
During this time, I took my camera with me: to Christian conferences, staff meetings, Missions in other countries, Evangelism Outreach during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I wasn't there as an outsider but as an insider. The world was my own, my own friends, my own family. I saw nothing odd or foreign about it. It was my home. And I just took photographs without thinking about it. Never thinking that anyone other than my friends or my family would ever see these slides. I wasn't doing it as a "project" that I could promote to book publishers and gallerists, rather I was just taking pictures for the pleasure of it.