My name is Austin, and I work at the East Side Camera Company. I've probably met many of you already either in store, in a class/seminar, or at an outing. Flickr users may know me from the challenges I try to post weekly to the Group's page.
My photographic history is pretty brief; I bought my first camera (a Nikon D3100) as an early graduation present to myself last April. I had never really been into photography, but enjoyed taking pictures here and there with others' cameras. That D3100 changed everything, and soon I was obsessed. I spent the next few months reading, watching YouTube tutorials, and shooting non-stop. Recently graduated and forced out of my campus job, I had plenty of time to immerse myself in photography. I loved every minute of it. I moved to Madison from Milwaukee shortly afterwards, and landed an ideal job at The Camera Company not long after that.
I always say that as a photographer, I've got the best and worst job in the world. It's the best because I've learned so much and met so many great people through the Camera Company; the worst because I'm not just the proverbial kid in a candy store, I'm a kid that works in a candy store, surrounded every day with all the latest drool-worthy gear. Customers have joked that they should just pay me in gear, and I'm not sure I'd object to that.
I just recently celebrated my first year in photography, marked by the purchase of my second camera (a Nikon D7000). I'm in love with it. I'm hopeful that this one should satisfy the need to upgrade for at least another few years. Now lenses on the other hand...
Nowadays, I split my time between work in the store, shooting for fun, and recently, my first paid shooting gigs. I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping customers get great cameras, and in instructing people in their use during classes, seminars, and tutoring sessions.
As for what I shoot for fun, it varies pretty wildly, but I got caught up in street photography early on and it's still primarily what I shoot. Getting as close as possible and snapping photos of interesting strangers still makes my heart pound; I cannot recommend it highly enough for those photographers seeking a thrill. Days off, you can find me wandering State Street or the alleyways surrounding it.
Since shooting some cross country skiing, an autocross, and a 5k, I've really been getting into sports photography as well. In this genre, like street photography, it's still about capturing emotion, interesting people, and moments.
Overall, I'd say I'm obsessed in the best possible way. Between reading, watching, viewing, comparing, teaching, tinkering, testing, and shooting, photography is a huge part of my life. What a fantastic interest we all share!
Be sure to stop by the East Side store some time and say hello!
Photo by Austin Cope