This past week I reached a major milestone in my life, or so I'm told by my family and numerous Facebook friends. I've hit the big 50 this week. OK, there it is, written down in the paper, so it must be true.
With that in mind I started thinking about what has been the most important thing I've learned about photography in the last 50 years and what is the best advice I could give to someone starting out. After soul searching for at least two or three minutes, I came up with this: Take lots of pictures. Yes, take lots of pictures. How is that for a prophetic statement? But seriously, I really do think that taking pictures is one of the most important things you can do.
For some reason I've always been a shutterbug. I remember delivering The Inter-Mountain as a young boy to make money to afford film and processing, and waiting anxiously for the pictures to return to the Family Drug Store downtown. I still have an album of photographs I made for a class in high school that got a pretty good grade. It had images taken from the roof of my house, my collie that has been long gone and my first car, a Volkswagen bug that is also long gone.
Pictures taken on numerous band trips and band camp could come in handy someday as a blackmail retirement plan. Pictures taken on vacations and of my boys growing up are not replaceable. I can't understand how some people never take pictures. Time passes by so quickly and pictures have a great way of taking you back in time. They bring back memories of people and places that would otherwise be forgotten.
I didn't realize it until lately but it seems that I've always had a camera nearby and I'm really glad I have since my friends are telling me that I will probably start forgetting things any time now.
Some people might remember the guy in the picture that accompanies this column. I thought I would include it before someone beat me to it.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a master photographer, certified professional photographer and president of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia.)