FLIRTING WITH THE CAMERA SINCE AGE TEN

Look close and you’ll see me there on the right with my family back in 1984, an old Polaroid camera hanging heavy against my neck, and a failing attempt to mask my moments-before-sulking from a failed attempt to hold that damn-heavy camera steady. Oh, man … I can still taste that frustration, feel the tears, hear my family chatter around me, all in the agony of a child’s wish just to be stronger; to get my family’s picture just right. Oh man, I wanted it bad. I suppose from an eleven-year-old’s perspective that was a big moment for me – to show off to my family something I loved for unexplainable reasons, want their applause, kind words – whatever – only to “fail” miserably. In one moment, I tear up immersing myself in memories of that moment, and in another passing moment I quietly chuckle at how minuscule and innocent that blip of time was, yet so real to that kid. In a lot of ways I’m still that kid.

Nissen Family Photo 1984

I don’t cry when shit goes wrong any longer. Well – it takes a lot, I suppose. But, I’m still that kid wanting so desperately to get it right. I want this not only for those that I make photographs for, but for myself. Mostly myself. Damn near all me, honestly. What I do with photography is what I would do in any regard. This is that passion thing people murmur on about in the quiet corners of their lives, and on boisterously-loud, big stages to inspire those who have lost theirs, find it once again. It’s popular.

I’m fortunate in two regards: 1. I know what this passion is and I’m in its mix. 2. It earns me money. Obviously I’m more fortunate than in two small ways, but this isn’t a brag-about-Jeff section.

Or, is it? It is. My passion in photography took a slow simmering start and only now feels like I’m nearing a boiling point. From my early days in high school – learning about SLR film cameras, negatives, darkrooms, printing paper, and chemicals – to college where I first used an SLR with autofocus that blew my mind, I have been romancing the different fields of photography. Early on I dreamt of National Geographics. I still do – let’s be honest. Certain sports intrigue me. Street photography interested me like a hard-core high school crush, but is now more of an interest like checking Facebook to see if that crush is still hot. I suppose without droning on … landscapes, astrophotography, long exposure, lifestyle, and portrait photography have long been my photography mix-tape go-to’s. They will always speak to me and lure me in and I will gladly and excitedly walk into the light.

Jeff Nissen

Jeff Nissen Photographer, Santa Cruz, CA,