How I came to love photography

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By Simon J. Lau

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Dear Mr. Graham,

It was over a decade ago that as my teacher, you introduced me to photography and set in motion a lifelong passion to develop and nurture this interest. It was in those early days that you provided me with the tactical tools to develop and print film. I still recall your teaching me the process in creating test strips and how to use these strips to identify the “right” amount of time for each print. In another instance, I am reminded of your demonstration in “dodging and burning” to either bring out, or mute an under- or overexposed portion of film. It was this hands-on knowledge of film development that initially contributed to my keen appreciation for beautiful photographs.

At the same time, it was the role that you played in shaping my philosophical approach to photography that has had the greatest influence on my work. There was the time spent in your office discussing the tremendous opportunities and great struggles that life creates and connecting the significance photography plays in documenting and translating these notable moments in our history. It was this initial framework of translation and documentation that has remained a cornerstone to my photographic philosophy and my work.

Each time I find myself behind the viewfinder, I challenge myself to not only capture and record what I see in front of me, but also to frame a story for my audience. In framing this story, my goal is to create intimate photographs that bring to life a small piece of history. Doing so has trained not only my eye, but also my mind to approach events, individuals, and circumstances with a mental lens wide-open. One that is keenly aware of the many perspective that can emerge from a more sensitive observation of the world around us.

Thank you, Mr. Graham. I will never forget your hard work and inspiration in cultivating my passion to document, translate, and share my observations of the human experience with others.

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Sincerely,

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Simon J. Lau