November 6, 2013 by Rob Hurlbut
A Tree Under False Moonlight
I was very fortunate to grow up in an age when film photography was the only way to take a picture. Truth be told, I wanted to be an artist that worked in the mediums of paint, charcoal or pen and ink but after a couple years of classes I still wasn’t any good at it. Way back in 1987 I was in 8th grade and that was when I took my first photography class. That was a galvanizing moment for me because the workings of a camera and the methodology of photography were something I was able to understand right away. Aperture, exposure, shadows, highlights and film type were all things that clicked in my mind just as fast as my camera’s shutter. Add to that the Zen of spending time in the dark room to develop my film and make prints and there was a recipe for pleasure that I’ve been using ever since.
My dad was a photographer in the Navy back in the 1960s so when I started to develop in interest in photography in the 1980s, he broke out a bunch of photographic equipment that I never knew he had. In a tiny corner of the basement of our house he set up a darkroom for me. The trays, enlarger and even the red light bulb were all vintage things he’d kept since HE was a teenager and were now being used by us together. When I had an assignment in school, I was able to develop my film the night before it was due in my own darkroom and even produce some prints to see if I’d exposed the film correctly.
Another thing my dad was able to do that helped me out very early in my photographic career was to buy film for me in bulk. There was a fee for the photography classes I took which included a finite number of rolls of film. Back then you would normally buy film in rolls of 24 or 36 exposures that you would take to a store to have developed and printed. Film and processing was an expense that added up very quickly, especially for a 13 year old with no income. Buying film by the foot, rather than by the roll was something my dad introduced me to. He had reusable film canisters and the cost of chemicals to develop 100 rolls of film was cheaper than the cost of having the store develop six rolls of film so that is where my allowance of $20 per month went for the next 4 years.
Looking Up A Bathrobe
I enlisted in the Navy and was a film photographer during my entire four year hitch and for about six years after that. In 2002 I picked up a digital camera for the first time and even though the 1.3 megapixel quality was shit, I saw the potential for a photographic revolution. I had a job photographing products for a company that sold stuff on eBay and I was learning to use Photoshop so I felt like I was on the cutting edge of the next big thing.
Christmas of 2005 is when I received my first digital camera. It was a Panasonic DMC-FZ4 and I toted it around with me like a movie starlet totes her Chihuahua around Los Angeles. All the photos in this post were shot by me within the first week or so of receiving it so by looking at these photos you are literally looking at the beginning of my photographic career. Cheers!