What Photo Inspired me to Pick Up a Camera?

Today in the Utah Photographers Facebook group, Jeff McGrath posed this question:

Do any of you have the first photo you clicked that made you fall in love with photography? Are you brave enough to share it?

Rather than just keep my response in that group, I thought I’d share it here for others to hear my thoughts.

I thought about this for a bit and couldn’t pinpoint my “one shot” that I took that make me really get into photography. What immediately came to mind was a shot that I was there when it was made.

My dad took tons of slide photography. I always enjoyed the classic family slide show, as in actually setting up the slide projector and viewing old photos. We loved it. My dad wasn’t any kind of artistic photographer, but he was prolific and we enjoyed reliving great experiences.

The experience is what I remember from this photo. My family took a week long kayaking trip up to the Broken Group Islands on the west coast of Canada. It’s an amazingly beautiful, quiet place that you can explore in your sea kayaks. We set up a base camp and would head out each day to fish, explore and commune with nature and each other.

One day I was out with my dad early in the morning fishing. I should qualify that. We were in a double kayak, so he was fishing and I was the “trolling motor” propelling us around. My dad reeled in a mid-sized fish that I figured would be part of dinner. Instead he said “watch this” as he sliced open the fish and tossed it about 3 feet out into the water. He pulled out the camera and we waited for no more than a minute. This huge bald eagle flew from an outcropping a half mile away, swooped down and grabbed the fish, and my dad made this photo.

The photo isn’t superb technically speaking, but I was enthralled. The experience with my dad was poignant, as was my feeling of having experienced such an amazing moment in nature. Having this photo to relive it was one of those early epiphanies as to the power of photography. It wasn’t until digital really came into a practical reality that I was truly hooked, but it was calling back to this moment and others that compelled me to take up a camera seriously and try to learn the craft.