Jeremy Sloan


For me, photography has been about waking up.

I had had an interest in the medium for a long time. When I was a kid, I remember making a pinhole camera in school (very cool) and trying to take night shots with a 110 camera (very disappointing).

My wife had taken a photography course in college, and for a number of years afterward I puttered around with the Ricoh manual camera she'd bought for that class. Eventually we bought a basic Nikon, an N65, and I started to get into digital photomontage using scans from those negatives. I did a little bit of that as a hobby, but didn't get really serious about photography until last fall.

At about the same time my wife and I started realizing how incredibly miserable we were together, I started taking a lot of photos. On weekends, I would take my youngest daughter for a drive in the early afternoon to get her to sleep, and that drive became a 1-2 hour excuse to stay away from the house. I began taking a camera with me (we had a Kodak EasyShare at the time) and taking pictures along the highways and byways of northwestern PA. Many of those shots were really poor, but I learned a good bit in taking them. Eventually I got to where I was trying to do stuff that the camera just couldn't do, and was ready for something a little bit more flexible.

When my wife and I separated in March, the photography turned into a full-blown obsession. My wife took the cameras with her, prompting me to buy a Nikon D80.

One of my first days out shooting with the Nikon, I realized that I could take decent night shots with the camera's 'night landscape' mode. It was very cool thinking that I could take photos at night and not end up with the crappy brown blobs I'd gotten from my 110 as a kid.

That evening I'd been trying to get some pictures of one of the lighthouses at Presque Isle State Park, and then wandered down the beach trying to take some sunset shots, but all of the pics I'd taken were mediocre at best. I was about to give up for the night when I looked behind me and found that the sky had turned an incredible fuschia color. Seeing that gave me a whole-body thrill of adrenaline. I ran back to the lighthouse as fast as I could, set up the tripod and shot a lot more pictures.

I was excited and very proud of some of the first photos I took with the D80, but when I started uploading those shots to Flickr and became conscious of the quality of work that other photographers were posting, it was deeply humbling. I'm still feeling that -- but I can also see improvements in my own stuff, which is encouraging.

Getting into photography, for me, has been kind of a healing process. As I've started to learn better techniques and improve my skills, I've also started feeling more alive, far happier, and much more conscious of everything around me.

Now I'm just shooting every chance I get, having fun, and trying to get better at it.