10-year Retrospective…Where Passion Was Reborn

Ten years ago…to the minute, to the day…my passion and obsession with photography was reborn. With this shot.

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“Grinnell Point” on Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park

The Early Years

My journey into photography reads like a tome you’ve heard before…received first camera (which I still have) from my grandparents has a young teenager which set off years of shutterbug activity that nearly broke my family with film and processing expenses until I was legal working age at which time I made myself broke with film and processing expenses.

With this camera, I photographed the world around me…fresh snow on the Central Illinois plains, my dog Beau, sunsets over corn fields, fallen trees, raindrops on the clothes line, dew drops on roses. These were a few of my favorite things to shoot. (see what I did there?)

This led to photographing the rotunda of Illinois State Capitol building (which is remarkable, by the way), the setting sun rays on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, my first portrait session with high school girlfriend from another town (hi Susan!) atop a park hillside, earning ribbons in local photography competitions, and so on. All natural light; no supplemental/studio light. Didn’t really know what I was doing, but I had a knack for seeing and composing the shot. Occasionally, I lucked into a proper exposure, though I couldn’t tell you how or why the image was properly exposed.

Still the Early Years

I put the camera down for a couple years upon entering college as an accounting major. Feel free to laugh. Me. Accounting. Yeah, that didn’t last long. One year and three weeks to be exact. Intermediate Accounting took me out of the accounting world and into the business management degree. Subtle shift which enveloped more of a conceptual knowledge base and involved people. Still, the one and only official photography schooling I had included an elective photography class in college which produced more of the same kind of images, except they were shot on black-and-white film. That was the only change. No increase in skill or image artistic quality.

So I put the camera away, completed my BBA degree, and moved to Nashville to work in the music industry with that camera packed somewhere in a box that I moved from apartment to apartment to condo to house to apartment then unpacked for our honeymoon in Maine, which netted a whopping five mostly-usable images because I didn’t know photography. I owned a camera, but I wasn’t a photographer (I also own a guitar, but I’m also not a guitarist). I knew how to load the film, compose the subject, press the  button, and manually wind the film. That was it.

So I put the camera back in a box for several more years.

The Road Trip

Twenty years after receiving this camera as a gift, Meghann and I began planning a road trip through Montana, my second time there, her first.

Remembering the lack of images from our honeymoon, there was no way this camera and my lackluster technical skills were making the trip together. It was time to dedicate some time and energy to learning the basics so we could collect our Montana memories in rectangles. I bought a semi-pro camera and applied cursory attention to what the dials and buttons did, became frustrated, and put the stupid thing on fully automatic and headed to the airport.

Revisiting my early shutterbug days, I shot pretty much everything in sight…a plane on the tarmac, an old schoolhouse, docile horses, rural gravel roads, “entering grizzly country” signs, just stuff. All to confirm that “point, focus, press button” worked. We reached St. Mary, Montana on the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park in early evening after a full day of travel then found ourselves at the lodge restaurant for dinner and huckleberry pie (pie!) before crashing into bed for the following day’s exploration of God’s back yard.

The Awakening

Something happened during that sleep. Perhaps it was the crisp Big Sky air in June. Perhaps it was Glacier National park itself. Perhaps it was the profound feeling of being small amidst the magnificent mountain grandness. Perhaps it was the huckleberries. The following morning, I set out to move beyond taking pictures and making pictures. I wanted blue skies in our Big Sky personal postcards, and I was determined to make those happen.

After breakfast, including huckleberry scones (blissfully underbaked), we trekked into the park and found ourselves at Many Glacier Lodge resting on the banks of Swiftcurrent Lake, and there she was…Grinnell Point.

Her reflected presense stopped me in my camera-hanging-around-my-neck-like-a-nerdy-tourist tracks.

This time, instead of swiftly raising the camera to my face and clicking mindlessly before continuing along the shore, I stopped. Mental recollections of iconic Ansel Adams photographs bounced around my head, and I breathed it all in. I studied the scene (which is awe-inspiring…go, if you’ve not been there). This is the moment. Compose, reject. Recompose, nah that’s not it. Look again. Stoop low and look from a different perspective (thank you, Mr. Keating). Yes! There it is…before my eyes in the viewfinder. Click.

Chills.

Got it. And, man, did I get it. I got a shot of adrenaline. I got the thrill of making a picture instead of merely taking one. LCD screen gave me a high-five that I got it.

Lots more to learn still, but this time it clicked. And this set into motion the past decade of my life, fueled by this soul-chilling passion of photography through which I’ve seen the world with new eyes, passionate purpose, and improved technical skill, and I’ve met hundreds of amazing people. That’s the real magic.

And it all started with Grinnell Point. And huckleberries.

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P.S. To read how, and why, I moved from photographing places to people…read this and this.

P.S.S. Purchase a signed, limited-edition print of Grinnell Point, click here. Cheers!

Leading Me Farther On

Written by Gregory Byerline on May 28, 2015 at 9:07 am
Filed under Inspiration,Life In Our World • Tags: , , , , ,

“I believe in brilliant song lyrics. Beautiful words matter to me, even when they are written by others.”

That sentence appears in my Perspective page highlighting inspirational elements of muse. Yesterday, I re-heard a beloved song for the umpteenth time, and the lyrics resonated deeply (again).

So much that I had to share them here because, well, life is hard sometimes, and sometimes “I’m a frightened, angry boy in grown-up’s clothes…I long to learn, but I’m so slow at being taught.”

Now that I have a son (welcome to the world, Miles!) in addition to his two older sisters, fatherhood means even more than it already did. Life has a musical soundtrack. Mine includes this gem…hints of who I am and why I do what I do. Cheers to a wonderful day in your world as we all move farther on.

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“Farther On” by Russ Taff from The Way Home

I hear you have a soft spot
For fools and little children
And I’m glad ’cause I’ve been both of those
I shook my fist up toward the sky
And at most of those who love me
A frightened angry boy in grown-up’s clothes

chorus:
But a father’s eye can always see right through
And a father’s heart can tell when tears are true
Now I’m standing on this road
Your hand has brought me to
Your faithful love will lead me farther on

Life sure has its choices
You left those choices to me
And I’m glad but sometimes I feel caught
It’s hard to know which bridge to cross
And which bridge I should be burning
I long to learn but I’m so slow at being taught

Christmas Wishes from my family to yours

Written by Gregory Byerline on December 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm
Filed under Life In Our World
Gregory Byerline Family Christmas Card

My Everbride Meghann and daughters Mollie (age 4) and Margot (age 10mo).

Sending you the happiest Christmas wishes from my family to yours. I’m honored to live with these lovely ladies who have influenced my work the most, defining why I do what I do.

Cheers to all of you this Christmas Eve. Snuggle up with those you love most and celebrate in fine fashion.

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P.S. Poem is an excerpt from “Gesu Bambino”, an Italian carol composed by Pietro Von in 1917 with English translation by Frederick H. Martens. Enjoy this evergreen performance by Luciano Pavarotti.

Where It All Began

My mother's bridal portraitThis is where it all began. Without this bridal portrait (and the bride in it, of course), there would be no me.

Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful and lovely mother, pictured here in the first bridal portrait I ever saw.

Her dress is timeless. Classic, sophisticated, and elegant. A prequel, if you will, to this great gown. The photograph of her is priceless.

Grateful for her foresight to have this bridal portrait made. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

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Related post: Why Bridal Portraits Matter

 

 

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