#ClassOf2021: Thoughts on then. Now. And where tomorrow... will take us!


For the first time in forever…

I’m serious. That’s not hyperbole. For the first time since my home station was @hot995, I picked up my aging @canon 7D DSLR and went to take real photos… not some photos taken through three lenses on some mobile device, but actual, real photos. Taken with multiple lenses. Some with a flash, others with some great lenses which can take low-light photography.

See, my family business… was once photography. I guess that DNA still flows through my veins. But the photog in this instance was - and is - a bit out of practice.

I admit it. I’ve become a creature of convenience. The iPhone makes it easy to take GREAT-FOR-INSTA-BOOK-SNAP-GRAM-TOK photos and videos. Can’t hate on that. Sometimes, they even look great…. for photos you don’t hang on a wall or videos you watch on a smaller screen. That’s what our bosses want at times. Create content and share that content and use an iPhone because it’s easy.

But does easily posted become an heirloom? I don’t really want to debate it… but, I do believe we all can do better.

So, I cleaned off my gear. Dusted off who-knows-what from the body of my camera. Cleansed my lenses. Realized that I’ve lent some of my BEST Canon L-Lenses to a few people and so I was going to shoot without the best tools in my bag…

… and suddenly, I was transported back to that place where I was learning to take photos on film. Film which I developed. Photos which didn’t allow me to delete bad shots or re-take certain shots to make them better.

I went back to a place where Papa, my granddad, once said, “The right photo doesn’t need words to explain it. It has already explained itself.”

I went back to a place where my dad and I - but mostly my dad - won a science fair project in elementary school - by building a pinhole camera, taking photos, and using the scientific method to answer the question “HOW DOES A CAMERA WORK.”

I went back to a place, just before Kyla was born, when I called the General Manager of my Grandparent’s photo studios, Roosevelt-Baker, in Corpus Christi, Texas, and said, “I need you to get me a camera - a film-based SLR camera, with the right lens kit - and please, don’t tell Meme or Papa I called… here’s my credit card number…”

I still have that camera. All my lenses now will work with it. Dare me to go find actual film and shoot it.

For the first time in forever, the daughter who unexpectedly made me grow up, become more than a guy or a man… but a dad… the daughter who skipped her Junior year in High School and went from being a Sophomore to a Senior because of hard work previously done… needed a photographer to chronicle this pinnacle moment in her life… so far.

I wanted to farm it out. I couldn’t. The weather and schedules brought forth conflicts and it wasn’t possible.

But a reminder from a friend I first met in South Carolina when Kyla was very wee - who posted a story she reported on about an indoor place built for photography… and another reminder from my at-work partner this morning who said, “hey, there’s this place at Tysons…” together with a dose of weather-related “you can’t go to Glenstone to shoot indoors” revelation by someone who first helped me to re-discover photography… prompted a new moment.

So, for the first time in forever, I picked up my camera. Cleaned it. Cleaned the lenses. Formatted memory cards and found lost card readers. And I went to this place called SELFIEWRLD at Tysons… to take photos of my daughter to commemorate her stepping away from High School and into life.

Oh, the irony.

But is it… irony?

This child… who prompted me to learn the family business, after winning a science fair ribbon about the family business, who led me to recognize the power of the art of the family business a few years later… who, at the end of her time as a kid on the precipice of becoming a college-aged adult… made me pick up something I’d cast aside which gave me great joy… so I could commemorate a moment of joy.

In doing so… Kyla re-awakened this part of me which existed to just do things which brought me joy. Again.

The photos aren’t the best they could be. I’m rusty. Out of practice. But I’m awake. Tuned in. And realizing I’ve missed so many things which brought me so much happiness for whatever reason.

It’s time to get back to happiness, friends. We’ve done enough for the pandemic. We’ve shelved enough for our jobs or careers. We can tolerate life’s less than perfect events… but we can’t miss moments to live in the now.

So, as I charge this battery for a camera which sat dormant for years, I’d encourage you to find again what makes you happy. Which brings you joy… not just “contentment” but real joy… and I’d encourage you to go after it. You will be glad you did.

These photos I’ve taken are dedicated to Meme and Papa. My Dad. Laurie Kapugi. Jeff and Dorrie Pilot….

… and Kyla. Who made me become a man when she first called me Daddy. And, like a great photo, it didn't require any explanation... or a caption... it just told the story...

Thanks for reading.


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