I take a lot of photos

Before there were cameras in phones...well, even back to when phones were still attached to walls, I've had a camera close to me most of the time, ready to capture a photo of something that interested me.

Yes, I have an iPhone, and use it often. I also like to keep a camera handy, generally one loaded with film. I also like digital. I just enjoy shooting.

I don’t know what compelled me to want to get into photography …

at the age of 14, but there I was with my parents’ old Miranda camera, going around taking pictures.

My training consisted of my dad showing me how to turn the dial on the hand-held light meter until the arm matched the needle, then setting the camera’s shutter and aperture to match. End of lesson. Good luck, Russell.

This was back in 1979, when setting the ASA on the meter was as simple as choosing between 100 and 400. Yep, 200 ASA and 800 ASA would come years later.

I spent most of my “formative years” in rural America, in a little town of 4000 people  named Lamar, Missouri. Looking back, I can see the many opportunities this offered me, compared to the big city life of Kansas City that I had wished for.

»I swore off film in the early 2000s. I literally said the words, out loud, that "I will never shoot film again." Well, I was wrong. I picked up my dad's old Nikon FG a few years back and now I'm a bit hooked on things analog. I got a record player, too. And I read printed books.«

For example, in 1981 I approached Doug Davis,…

the publisher of the local newspaper, The Daily Democrat, and proposed a deal. I would cover high school track, for free, as I was on the team and would be there anyway. He was to give me the film and I would give him back the shot roll and the story. The deal was that if he liked my work, he would hire me and teach me everything he knew about the newspaper business. If he didn’t like my work, he had to be honest with me, and I’d go off and do something else.

On April 1, 1981 I had my first byline as a professional reporter/photographer.

I couldn’t get enough. I would get to the paper as soon as I could and stay as late as there were stories to cover and write. I worked weekends. I loved it. I loved interviewing the people and putting it into words. I worked the darkroom. I mocked up the paper. I even helped with paste-up once in a while.