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Baumgarten: Through the eye of a camera

"What would you like for your birthday, April?" "Hmm," my high-school self pondered. "I know! I want a camera, Mom!" When my 18th birthday rolled around, I opened my present to find a point-and-shoot. The cameras were just becoming popular as pho...

“What would you like for your birthday, April?” “Hmm,” my high-school self pondered. “I know! I want a camera, Mom!” When my 18th birthday rolled around, I opened my present to find a point-and-shoot. The cameras were just becoming popular as photography entered the digital era. It was unreal that a camera could hold hundreds of photos versus a couple dozen on a roll of film.
As excited as I was, there was a look of disappointment on my face. “Is something wrong?” my mother asked. “I wanted a camera like yours, Mom,” I replied. It wasn’t a better version of a point-and-shoot. Mom had a Minolta with a high-powered lense. She used it to take photos of cattle and, occasionally, let me use it for my 4-H project. For a decade, I had tried to perfect my photography skills so I could get “a big girl’s camera.” Unfortunately for me, a camera like that cost hundreds of dollars, and Mom thought, rightfully so, that was too expensive. “If I knew you were going to be a photographer for a living, I might consider it,” she said. “But you will never have a job where you would use a camera.” It’s a fun little joke I like to tell when people ask how I got into journalism. Mom rolls her eyes every time I say it. However, this week she is in Hawaii, and her chances of seeing it are slim. Though I’m sure her neighbors will save a copy for her. It sounds a bit egotistical, but I don’t brag about too many things - except for my photos. I’ll admit it. When I see a photo I took that I think is amazing, I tend to show it off to everyone. It’s like getting that rush after shooting that big buck or getting a perfect score on a figure skating routine. It’s hard to explain. Why do I find myself wanting to rush out to the car after I hear there is a fire? What made me want to risk ripping my jeans on a fence line just so I could get combines harvesting wheat under the super moon? And why was I so eager to get out to the Heart River Golf Course to catch Dean Sams of Lonestar trying to make a putt? (Yep, that was me dropping names.) It was a question I asked myself this week. Usually, I wonder how to get the perfect photo - crouching down on the dirt, finding a building to stand on or adjusting my settings to get the Ferris wheel effect. Occasionally, however, people often ask me why I take the photos I do. I don’t understand it myself. I was told once that photographers see the world differently than other people. I don’t know if that is true. I certainly try to get different angles and lighting. Perhaps I just want to share my experiences with other people, to show them what the world looks like in a different way. There is just something about being able to show people what I see, when I am lying down in the dirt, or leaning over the edge of a building. Perhaps by seeing my photos, readers can feel like they met a superstar or felt the heat of a flame as it threatened a home. Why do I like taking photos? Maybe somehow I can bring a smile to someone’s face, or make them feel upset yet give them understanding of the importance of the image. If there is one thing I want to do, it is help people realize what is going on around them. Tony Hawk got a thrill from being the first to land a 900. Team USA, and the rest of America, got their high from defeating the Soviet Union in the Olympics. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the world through a 200 mm lens. And I can’t wait to find something new to shoot. With my camera, that is. Baumgarten is the assistant editor of The Dickinson Press. Email her at abaumgarten@thedickinsonpress.com. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/april.baumgarten. Follow her at twitter.com/aprilbaumsaway.“What would you like for your birthday, April?”“Hmm,” my high-school self pondered. “I know! I want a camera, Mom!”When my 18th birthday rolled around, I opened my present to find a point-and-shoot. The cameras were just becoming popular as photography entered the digital era. It was unreal that a camera could hold hundreds of photos versus a couple dozen on a roll of film.
As excited as I was, there was a look of disappointment on my face.“Is something wrong?” my mother asked.“I wanted a camera like yours, Mom,” I replied. It wasn’t a better version of a point-and-shoot. Mom had a Minolta with a high-powered lense. She used it to take photos of cattle and, occasionally, let me use it for my 4-H project. For a decade, I had tried to perfect my photography skills so I could get “a big girl’s camera.”Unfortunately for me, a camera like that cost hundreds of dollars, and Mom thought, rightfully so, that was too expensive.“If I knew you were going to be a photographer for a living, I might consider it,” she said. “But you will never have a job where you would use a camera.”It’s a fun little joke I like to tell when people ask how I got into journalism. Mom rolls her eyes every time I say it. However, this week she is in Hawaii, and her chances of seeing it are slim.Though I’m sure her neighbors will save a copy for her.It sounds a bit egotistical, but I don’t brag about too many things - except for my photos. I’ll admit it. When I see a photo I took that I think is amazing, I tend to show it off to everyone. It’s like getting that rush after shooting that big buck or getting a perfect score on a figure skating routine. It’s hard to explain.Why do I find myself wanting to rush out to the car after I hear there is a fire? What made me want to risk ripping my jeans on a fence line just so I could get combines harvesting wheat under the super moon? And why was I so eager to get out to the Heart River Golf Course to catch Dean Sams of Lonestar trying to make a putt? (Yep, that was me dropping names.)It was a question I asked myself this week. Usually, I wonder how to get the perfect photo - crouching down on the dirt, finding a building to stand on or adjusting my settings to get the Ferris wheel effect. Occasionally, however, people often ask me why I take the photos I do.I don’t understand it myself. I was told once that photographers see the world differently than other people. I don’t know if that is true. I certainly try to get different angles and lighting.Perhaps I just want to share my experiences with other people, to show them what the world looks like in a different way. There is just something about being able to show people what I see, when I am lying down in the dirt, or leaning over the edge of a building. Perhaps by seeing my photos, readers can feel like they met a superstar or felt the heat of a flame as it threatened a home.Why do I like taking photos? Maybe somehow I can bring a smile to someone’s face, or make them feel upset yet give them understanding of the importance of the image. If there is one thing I want to do, it is help people realize what is going on around them.Tony Hawk got a thrill from being the first to land a 900. Team USA, and the rest of America, got their high from defeating the Soviet Union in the Olympics.Nothing makes me happier than seeing the world through a 200 mm lens. And I can’t wait to find something new to shoot.With my camera, that is.Baumgarten is the assistant editor of The Dickinson Press. Email her at abaumgarten@thedickinsonpress.com. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/april.baumgarten. Follow her at twitter.com/aprilbaumsaway.

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