I’m a professional photographer.
Why I have to use the word professional in front of photographer, I’m not sure. To separate me from Amateurs? That’s a possibility, though I have seen a lot of amateur work that’s just as good, if not better than mine. Hmmm, maybe I put that word there because I’ve been recognized as “Photographer of the Year” by various organizations, been published in magazines and books, and have won international photo awards all over the world? Doubtful. Though I do have to say those accolades are nice feathers in my cap. Maybe it’s because I’m paid for my work? Could be. But I tend to think that putting the word professional in front of photographer simply sounds better, and moreover — it sounds “Professional,” it grabs peoples’ attention and makes them take notice. So, let’s go with that last reason.
Now, as a Professional Photographer, I shoot a lot and I don’t stick with just one type of photography. I like to mix it up with different mediums (digital, film), and different subject matter — landscapes, nudes, abstracts, portraits, macro, et al.
I like that phrase — et al. I never really know if I’m using it correctly, but I think it makes me sound smart, or maybe pretentious, or maybe I’m digressing at the moment.
Back to being a photographer. Professional Photographer.
As I said, I like to shoot a lot. Or I should say, I would like to shoot a lot, or at least a lot more than I actually do. Sometimes I don’t have to the time to shoot, sometimes I have an idea, but no way to shoot it, or no model to pose for me, or, more-often-than-not, I simply don’t have any ideas to shoot. The latter is a real kick in the crotch. But I still desperately want to shoot, need to shoot.
So, I grab my camera, and just look for an interesting subject matter.
Oh, let’s take a moment and talk about my cameras. I don’t have all the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. I have what I have. I use old-school film cameras — some of which would be considered antiques by now. I also have a couple digital cameras, but my newest one is probably at least ten years old. I simply don’t have the money to keep up with all the new releases. And that’s okay. Yes, it’s always nice to have a brand new expensive camera, but I’m a firm believer that it’s not the camera, but the photographer, that makes a photo great. You have to have “an eye”. Otherwise, you can have the most expensive gear in the world and you’ll still take crappy pictures.
Again, I’m digressing.
Lenses. Mmm, I love my lenses. Just like my cameras, I have some nice lenses, but I don’t have the top of the line. I have what I have and I make it work.
Back to looking for something to shoot.
One day, not too long ago, I was bored to tears, and really wanted, no, really needed to shoot something. But, as luck would have it, I had no ideas of what to shoot. I grabbed my camera and headed out the door. I went for a walk, nothing caught my fancy. I went to the park, snapped a few frames. Yawn. I was at a dead-end for ideas so I decided to hang it up for the day and just go home.
As I’m opening my front door, I look up to give greetings to a spider that resides up there. He’s a Skull Spider, also known as a Cellar Spider, or a Daddy Longlegs, and he’s built a nice web of a home. I certainly have no problem with him living there. Live and let live. Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. Besides, he’s actually quite useful — helps to keep the creepy-crawlies and other bugs from entering my home.
I pass under his web, then stop, realizing that something’s different. I backtrack and look up again. The Daddy Longlegs guarding my front door is not what he seems — he turns out to be a Mommy Longlegs and there are dozens of Baby Longlegs (spiderlings) crawling all over her.
Fantastic. I found what I wanted to shoot.
I grab a step-ladder, position it, and with camera in hand I climb up — right into the web. Shaking off the willies, I click a few frames. Nope. Not working for me. My lens cannot get close enough for the shot I envision.
I dig in my camera bag, put a nice macro lens on the camera and try again. Still, I’m not satisfied with the results and am just about to give up when I remember a tidbit of knowledge floating around in the back of my brain about something called a “poor man’s macro.”
A real poor man’s macro is a Jerry-rigged contraption where you have one lens attached normally to your camera and you take another lens, turn it around (backwards) and shoot through it. It acts like a magnifier to get extremely close up to your subject matter. So basically you’re holding one “reversed” lens tightly in front of an attached lens while trying to keep the light out from in between them. Yes, you can tape or somehow attach the two lenses together, but I didn’t have any means to attach them unless I used tape. And that wasn’t going to happen because I certainly didn’t want to take the chance of having to clean sticky tape residue off my lenses. So I choose to just hold the two lenses together, and hoped for the best.
After literally hours of trial and error, while standing on the ladder with my head and hands in the Arachnid’s web and my eye to the camera, I finally got a few good shots of the mother with her freshly hatched babies held between her jaws.
I will have to say, it was certainly quite a photographic experience. A first for me. And yes, I got some pretty cool shots, but for days afterwards I still had the heebie-jeebies and felt like there were spiders crawling all over me.
The things I do for my photography.
Lon Casler Bixby is a professional photographer and published author in various genres: Fiction, Poetry, Humor, Photography, & Comic Books.
See his writing here — www.amazon.com/author/loncaslerbixby/.