Photographer of the Month

The club’s Photographer of the Month for April, 2018 is James Brown. Below is his biography.

Hi everyone,

It is my pleasure to be your Sonora Photo Club photographer of the month for April 2018.  I have had a camera in my hands since 1966 as a student at Humboldt State University (it was Humboldt State College back in those days!!)  I was a biology/ecology/wildlife science major but obviously needed some art classes to graduate.  Although my name is James Brown, I can’t paint pictures, can’t sing, can’t dance and can’t play music – not even a radio.  So photography was the “art” class with which I had the best chance for a passing grade.  It was much more interesting, educational and fun than I had anticipated and I did pass the class with a B-.

I purchased a Nikon F (film of course) at the advice of a friend so that I could take pictures consistent with my biology, ecology and wildlife studies. In 1966 wildlife studies, unlike today, consisted of mammals, birds, reptiles, other assorted fauna and the abundant flora in Humboldt County. As a student, one roll of 12 or 24 exposures was costly and printing was almost prohibitive except in the photography classes.  So, as I could afford a 12 or 24 exposure roll for slides, I took my camera with me at all times but shot as carefully and conscientiously as possible.  The photography classes helped with a basic understanding of photography but the rest of my photography was limited, experimental, trial and error and learn as you can.  This went on for many years.  I did take some reasonably good photos and received some nice compliments.  (My oldest son, who is artistically inclined, was one who encouraged me and gave some of the nice compliments – after all he was living at home at that time!  However he did caution that I should not give up my day job and that further education and application of the science of photography would certainly help.)

In 2005 I purchased a Nikon D200 including a telephoto and macro lenses and a couple of point and shoot cameras.  Now I could really take as many kinds of photos as well as number of photos as I had time for and the inclination to do so.  All those photos were downloaded to the computer and if I was lucky enough to lure anyone to the computer they saw ‘soc’ (straight out of the camera) photos.  A few of those “lucky viewers” introduced me to and encouraged me to try Adobe Photoshop Elements.  No classes, no tutors, learn as best as you can – boy was that an experience.  I only edited (it was more like messed with) select photos and even though ‘messed with’ they remained in the computer.  Why would one spend so much money, time and effort to keep his or her product hidden away?

In 2006, I took a videography class that included many concepts relevant to photography and editing.  That rekindled my interest in doing something more with photography along with Ansel Adams’ quote that “I don’t take photographs, I make photographs”.  It was time to develop the ‘product’ (no pun intended) and exhibit the effort.  I joined Sonora Photo Club a couple of years later, upgraded to Lightroom and started trying to ‘make’ photographs.  It has been an interesting journey – even more so than my first photography class at Humboldt.  The club and members have been quite instrumental and helpful on this journey. 

I still can’t paint pictures, can’t sing, can’t dance and can’t play music – even the radio but am improving with making (shooting, organizing editing and publishing) photographs.  And best of all I am really, really enjoying the “whole nine yards” of this adventure in photography.  Next best is that I’m retired so I don’t have to worry about keeping my day job anymore!  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

James Brown – and “I feel good!”


Past Photographers of the Month