Terry Stewart Photography - From The Beginning
My first memory of cameras and taking pictures was around age ten or eleven, over thirty years ago. Mom had an old Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Box camera with the separate flash unit that resembled a bowl on a stick, reminiscent of the journalist cameras in the old Superman TV shows. After Mom finished a roll of film, I would run around the house taking pictures with the camera. I was constantly asking for my own camera. The first camera I ever owned was a no name 110 pocket camera. It just didn't suit me, so I started nagging Mom for a 35 mm. Finally, one birthday I got a very basic 35 mm camera; I could adjust the film speed and a few lens settings. The lens was fixed, but I though I had a top of the line piece of equipment. And there my journey began
My first real experience came in Junior High School with the newspaper staff. My trusty, basic 35 mm was my sidekick for the two years I spent there. If I could have got out of class, I would have taken pictures all day long. We soon moved to a different town and I felt lost without my photography "job", so I started going to football games, parades, anywhere there were people, to take pictures. The newspaper at my new school didn't appeal to me, but the High School Annual did, so I spent my first year on the Staff as a photographer. The second year, I was given the additional duty of being the Sports Editor. I continued building my skills through high school, continued to go to games and parades, and terrorized the neighborhood kids with my camera.
During these Annual Staff days, I was introduced to Twin Lens Reflex cameras. The school had an old Yashica no one knew how to use. I searched high and low for information on this old camera, but had no luck. This was before the Internet ever thought about being born. The library didn't have a single book on photography, let alone cameras. The Annual Staff advisor, Donna McLean, suggested stopping by the local newspaper to see if anyone there had any knowledge of the camera. I never learned his last name, but an old newspaperman named John took interest in showing me the ropes. He was loaded with information on that old camera. I soon learned the old Twin Lens cameras were the tool of choice for many professional portrait photographers and newspaper men alike. The best lesson John taught me was about light equalization with the meter on the old Yashica. It carries through to f-stops and shutter speeds for today's cameras. Mrs. McLean and John had more of a hand in forming my skills and love of photography than either will ever know. I can't recall how many rolls of film I put through that camera, but I have fond memories of the fun, education, and experience I gained with it. I made a point to find and buy an identical Yashica for my collection; it sits proudly on my shelf as a reminder of good times. It still takes great pictures when I can find the film and processors who still work in 120 format.
After high school, the daily grind took me away from photography, other than the occasional snapshots during holidays and family gatherings. Family members always asked for copies of my pictures after the film was developed and they saw the results. I trudged on for a couple of years and decided to make a big change in my life; I was engaged and joined the Army within a month of each other. While away at basic training, I smuggled a small camera into the barracks after a health and welfare visit to the shoppette (Army lingo for shaving cream and such from the store). I had to be very careful to not get caught with the camera because we were not supposed to have them. I made it through the thirteen weeks of training with many rolls of film to be developed, not my best work, but it was fun taking them. My fiancée and family came to Georgia for graduation, which prompted the trip to the Post Exchange (PX) afterwards. While strolling through the store, my second love caught my eye. There she laid, under the glass of the counter, the slickest, sleekest camera I had ever seen, a Canon AE-1 Program. I had to treat myself; it just could not be helped. Finally, I had what I saw as a top of the line, most professional camera money could buy, and in reflection, it was a really good camera for 1986. I had interchangeable lens to work with, a good flash unit, tripod, and the whole setup. My interest was renewed and I attacked with fervor. It was like riding a bike; I had not forgotten what was burned into my subconscious through all those years of practice. I was once again hooked.
For the next five years, the military kept me quite busy. I managed to keep a camera with me most of the time, although many of the pictures I took during training was from a lower quality camera. I could not justify taking my good camera to the field to endure the harsh life an infantry soldier had to deal with on a daily basis. I broke several cameras in the field; I even had one held together with duct tape. During my first year with the 101st Airborne Division, I stumbled upon an Army Still Photographic Specialist course. I checked into all the prerequisites to see if I could take the course. To my surprise, I was qualified to take the course and my commander approved my request. A few short weeks later, I was an Army trained and qualified Photographer. My career took me to Germany the following year for three years. The opportunities for photographic outings were endless, castles, waterfalls, lakes, forests, anything you could imagine. The cobblestone streets and old buildings were fascinating. While looking through pictures one evening a friend asked if I ever did portraits, my answer was not formally. Needless to say, this was the beginning of another phase of my experiences. He wanted pictures of his six-month-old son to send home to his family. So, one afternoon, in my living room, with no lighting equipment, just the light through the window, I embarked on my first portrait shoot. My friend and his wife were extremely pleased with the results, as were their mothers and fathers.
After I returned to the United States, I continued on my quest for knowledge of photography. The course of years took me on many different paths to locations that would hone my craft. I've taken pictures of concerts, events, portraits, scenery, weddings, animals, and many other subjects of interest. It was only natural that I flow with technology and move over to digital when it became available. I used a Sony F707 for many years because of the quality of the Carl Zeiss lens it had, but in the long run, I went back to Canon as my choice of equipment. The many years I used the AE-1 Program formed my opinion of what a good, quality camera should be, and Canon has been my choice since.
Here I am, over thirty years later, it just seems natural to begin a career doing what I love to do. I have always believed a person should be able to have quality photographs at an affordable price, so I hope you enjoy viewing some of my pictures. If you see something you just have to have a copy of, please contact me, I would be happy to work with you.