The Beginning

Thirty years ago tomorrow, it began. I received a red Vivitar PS:135 camera from Santa. I wanted a camera because my uncles took photos, and I wanted to be cool like them. (I can’t find a photo of the PS:135 that’s fair use, so if you want to see what that camera looked like, you’ll have to Google it.)

I took photos of EVERYTHING. Mostly of playing with my brother in the woods.

One of my first-ever photos. My brother jumping off the end of an old flat-bed trailer. I can’t remember if he was being a ninja turtle or something else.

All through school, I was the picture taker. I took photos of every event and happening. And after high school, I lost it for a while. There was a period of time that I didn’t document anything because I was busy trying to survive. But that’s another post for another time.

1997. Some of my friends getting ready for a marching band performance.

Then I found it again. I bought my first digital camera. A Sony. It was amazing. I think it was 8 or 10 megapixels and I was in love.

My cat Petey, in the grass. This was around 2004.

I kept taking pictures. Eventually, people wanted me to take photos of them and their families. I did. I made a career of it. I still take portraits of other people. I also make a lot of art. I’ve grown in my “picture taking” and morphed into an artist.

Portrait of Olivia V., 2018. Baton Rouge, LA
Copyright Jennifer Esneault, Detonation, 2018.
My family in the Buffalo River.

If you happen to unwrap a box tomorrow that has a camera in it, treat it with respect. Learn how to use it. Become more than a picture taker. Get out of auto mode. Make art. Make art out of your life.

And know that what is in that box is a tool, not a business. It took me a long time to get to where I am, and a lot of learning. I encourage you to take courses, get mentors, and practice, practice, practice if photography is something you’d like to pursue.

Thirty years. It has been a good time so far. Here’s to another thirty.


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