"Sixty-five Years - Two Hundred Fifteen Days"
'From Kill Devil to Tranquility Base'

Wright Brother's National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, NC


Mike Darr


     My modest beginning in photography was an inexpensive way to pass the off-duty time while attending aircraft maintenance technical school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, circa 1966. The base was equipped with a photo hobby shop, complete with a black and white darkroom. After I saw my first print slowly appear in the developer tray, I was hooked and photography would always be my preferred means of expression.

     Back then, as with all airman one-stripers, money was tight. The only camera I could afford was a simple Kodak Instamatic. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the wonder of darkroom sorcery. Dreams of becoming a professional photographer, remained just that, a dream. The responsibilities of providing for my family took precedence. There was a short-lived attempt to be a full-time photographer, but my skills as an aircraft mechanic and later a computer technician were much more in demand and paid better.

     In the late eighties, with my financial status stabilized, I got serious again about photography, studying everything I could read, slowly obtaining good equipment and learning by experimenting. Fine art photography interested me the most, especially the works of masters such as Ansel Adams, Fred Picker, Elliot Porter, Dorthea Lange, Alfred Stieglitz, Imogene Cunningham, as well as artists like Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hopper. Using these many great artists as a foundation, I honed my own style, which I hope can stand by itself.

     Around 1996, this photographer discovered the digital darkroom and a new computer program called Photoshop. Early digital imaging was looked down on by many artists and photographers, but many of us saw the potential. With digital, the magic of the darkroom can be on your desktop but with even more power and creativity. The likes of which the pioneers of photography could never have imagined. With over 20 years of serious film photography on my resume I leaped head first into this vast digital ocean and have never looked back. I still appreciate and use film for special projects but could not, nor would I want to, leave digital. With digital photography, the power to create an image as we see it, not necessarily as it appears, lies within every one of us.