When I started working for myself, I was in search of stories. I was in search of stories that I could capture with my cameras, with my ears, and my heart. I wanted to tell rich stories, those that touched a certain group of people to create some sense of change.
I have always been influenced by stories and not sure where this all began…but I do know a few things. I grew up as a creative soul inside the body of person who was “supposed to be an engineer.” I was always told that I had my grandmothers creative gift, one that was only transfered to a few kind souls…my aunt Vicki and my cousin Lisa.
My grandmother’s name was Addie Belle Wilson Rettew and she passed away when I was eight months old. She was my father’s mom and lost her battle to colin cancer, passing a legacy of creative spirit through her passion of painting. My grandfather built her a beach house with his bare hands on the coast of South Carolina in Hunting Island State Park. She taught painting and art at North Greenville College and Furman University. For some strange reason, I still remember her holding me.
I gained my creative voice through years and years of art lessons. I took private art lessons after school all the way through high-school. I had athletic skills playing JV Basketball and running Cross-Country, yet I loved drawing and painting. I found my true calling, my medium in the 6th Grade when I was selected to go to a summer program for gifted students called Governor’s School. I spent all summer learning the basics of photography …then my voice was sparked. I built my first pin-hole camera and from there on I was a shutter bug. Everywhere I went, I was taking pictures.
I remember my first camera was a Canon T90 and it was beautiful. My dad bought it for me in junior high school but would not let me touch it until I read the instruction book. Not the operation manual, but the book that talked about the medium. A photojournalist was born.
Capturing images became my life’s mission..capturing stories became my life’s calling. There are two things that I love to capture…they are faces and and sounds that sourroung. I found this when I learned how to use a video camera. I did not not learn the video medium with a home video camera. My grandfather was the only one that had one and I was not allowed to touch it. I learned with a broadcast betacam at Clemson University. Since I was the school photographer at Daniel High School, I was chose by Clemson Athletics to work in Video Services on scholarship to capture football practices for the coaches. Game film is what makes college football such a competitive sport…the art of understanding and grading the movement of players.
Clemson Football Coach Danny Ford was the coach that had the vision to purchase the best video equipment, to not only grade his team but to grade his opponent. I remember hearing that the cameras were worth $40,000 and it was a privilege to be one of the three people to shoot video with one of those three cameras. I learned the craft, the technical skill of operating these cameras. What I found was my next medium…using this medium to capture motion and sound.
This technical skill gave visual life to my brain…my heart. The ability to capture moments in time that inspired change. Having a visual communication tool to not only record the image but the sound, rebroadcast for others to view…and create a sense of passion filled momentum to see life through a different “lens.”
Capturing stories is more than just having a camera and pointing it in the right direction to acquire an image. It takes heart, soul, and ears. It takes the understanding of the context and the understanding of the audience. We can have the best technical skills, but we have to understand the language to translate this medium for a community of people to comprehend…to invoke change.
I think back to my years as an engineering student…I remember Newton’s Third Law of Motion with the basic premise that for every action…there is a equal and opposite reaction. This is commonly know as Law of Conservation of Energy. So thinking of this in human terms, for every human action…there will be a equal and opposite reaction.
If we look at this through the view-point of Dissoi Logoi, we will also learn to understand that there are two sides to any “argument.” This is commonly taught in rhetoric classes along with the legal profession. From a communication view-point, we must see another’s point-of-view.
I began comparing this two very important texts after graduate school. This is where I found my voice. I studied mathematical sciences in undergraduate and communications in graduate school. This brought all my technical skill to one critical path, turned the technical skill into more of a practitioner based skill…no longer seeing the camera as tool but merely a way to capture and interpret reality for those to consume and enjoy.