Photography is a little like backpacking - sometimes it will take you off trail and into untraveled terrain.
When your photography leads you there, by all means follow it; off trail is where things get interesting. It is where your photographic interests, style and vision will grow and evolve. It is where you will grow and evolve as a as an image maker and as a person.
I took my first faltering steps into the world of photography when I was 13. As I approach my 62nd birthday, I can now see that photography has taken me to places that I never would have imagined - places like Erdene Zuu monastery and Gandan monastery in Mongolia.
Photography has led me to meet people that I would have otherwise never met - people like National geographic photographers Jim Brandenburg and Steve Raymer, Magnum photographer Constantine Manos, Martha’s Vineyard photographic artist Alison Shaw, Swiss photographer Oliver Klink, my dear Mongolian friend Onolmaa Tervit and her nephew Badaa who was my driver, translator and guide in Mongolia - and Ven. Arjia Rinpoche.
These are but a few of the people who have left their indelible influence on my life and my growth as both a photographer and as a person. I have come to meet and know them all because I signed up for a photography class where I learned to develop black and white film. The impact on my life that photography and the people I have met and forged relationships with as a result of the class I took when I was 13 cannot be overstated.
Photography will take you into unexpected places, unknown places, wondrous places if you are willing to follow it where it leads you - if you are willing to break trail, to forge your own path. Based on my own experience, I cannot recommend breaking trail too highly.