It was, I believe, 7 PM on 17 January 1957, when our 17-inch Philco, black and white television screen lite up with “The Bob Cummings Show”. I watched the show’s opening with amazement while an image slowly appeared in a developing tray in Bob’s darkroom. I was hooked. Hooked on the chemistry of photography; hooked on composing photographs didn’t come until 21 years later when I won first place in a Deloitte Haskins & Sells national photo contest.
Now I have discovered that Bob, my role model, in his everyday life had a passion not only for photography, but like myself, flying too. And, Bob’s godfather was none other than Orville Wright, who taught Bob to fly. Bob later became a flight instructor and was issued flight instructor certificate number “1”!
I began by informal education in photography in our family’s cinder block home in Pinellas Park, Florida. Jim, a neighbor, gave me a Kodak Brownie camera, a roll of film and taught me basic darkroom skills. I went to work shooting, converted our laundry room, attached to our carport, into a part time darkroom an anxiously anticipated my first printing session. The next day, just as in the “Bob Cummings Show” opening, I watched an image of our six-hundred square foot house appear in the developing tray.
Today, my passions for photography and flying continue. I have focused my interest in photography on the study of faces. By studying images of faces we begin to understand the individual, their past and perhaps, their future. The camera allows me to enter the subjects’ private space in a way not acceptable in most cultures. Larger than life size images carry us closer to the subject than imaginable and gain us an insight into the subject’s life as well as their soul.
-W. Riley Maynard