The boomerang-shaped learning curve: my first year as a photographer

DJ's wideshot

This weekend last year I bought my first camera and took the first tentative steps down the road to becoming a photographer. Yesterday I hung my first show, at DJ’s on Broadway in Denver. This morning I had brunch there with friend, mentor and sensei Greg Thow and his lovely wife, Megan, to celebrate and to marvel at the reality that I actually have my pictures up on an actual wall in public. I’m not Ansel Adams yet, but I’m not going to lie, it was a nice feeling. It will be even better if someone buys something.

The last year has been the most remarkable educational experience I’ve had in the last couple of decades. To say the learning curve has been vertical is to over-rely on classical Physics. In truth, much of what I have learned has suggested associations to things I know from other disciplines, and the ultimate result is that my existing body of knowledge has not only informed my growth as a shooter, my photography has broadened and deepened my understanding of things from the past. I now look back on my poetry and my academic work, for instance, and grasp nuances that I never noticed before.

Modern Physics suggests that time isn’t linear at all, so perhaps I’m therefore not out of line in suggesting that over the past year my learning curve has actually doubled over backward. It certainly feels that way.


I have a long way to go, but I’m also happy about how far I’ve come in such a short period of time, and I want to say a brief thanks to all those who have helped me by sharing tips and tricks and insights and by critiquing my work in ways that showed me what I was doing wrong without discouraging me. So, thanks to everyone at 5280 Lens Mafia, and especially those I have badgered via backchannel e-mail: GregT, Denny, GregS, Stuart, Dawn, Cyndi, and Lisa.

And now, more proof that my pictures are on a wall. I feel so … validated.

DJ's cars

DJ's endwall

Categories: ArtSunday, Photography

6 replies »

  1. Herr Smith: I would love to see your pictures. Do you have a site one can view these? Good fortune to your new endeavor. Wishing you the best in your practice of proper mental hygiene.

  2. Congratulation, Sam!! It’s a pretty good feeling, isn’t it? 🙂 Your work is beautiful, and I will keep my fingers crossed for a sale to come your way!

  3. Great looking show, many congrats – just a tech question about the prints themselves: are those dry mounts? Or are you using some other method of “framing”?