As a young man, I got my first camera for my 11th birthday, an East German camera called a Praktica. My father gave it to me. He liked photography and owned a Leica and Nikon F2. He gave me the camera and sent me on my way with very little instruction other than to keep the needle of the light meter in the middle. I went to the park and took some photos of kids at the playground. I still have the negatives of the first roll of film I ever shot.
As a teenager I continued to dabble, but not really hone my skills. My father became ill with cancer and shortly before he died he gave me is Leica and his Nikon. After his death I put the cameras away and did not touch them for many, many years.
When my oldest son was 16, he was convinced that I was the dumbest human on the planet and definitely not cool dude. In an effort to regain a personal relationship with him, I took him to Baseball Spring Training. I thought it might be a good idea to take some photos. I dusted off and cleaned up the old F2 and took my longest glass (135mm manual focus f2.8). On our first day there I was standing very close to Orel Hershiser and Mike Piazza as they were talking. I took some photos of them and some of the other ball players. At the end of the day, I gave the film to my son to take to the nearby Walmart to get processed.
He came back to our hotel room and started looking at the photos. As he looked at them he said, “Damn Dad, these are pretty good. You should be a sports photographer.” And so 12 years later, through some good fortune and lots of perseverance, I am.
The photo of Orel Hershiser and Mike Piazza hangs on the wall next to my desk. The Leica and Nikon are still with me. I actually take them out for exercise every once in a while. I never intended on being a Sports Photographer. I am not even that big a sports fan, but I love what I do and my son thinks I am pretty cool.