MPA: Why do you love photography?
SB: I have always loved the outdoors and most especially the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where my family used to vacation every year starting when I was just a baby. As I grew older, I began to take to the rocks and climb on my own. I found awe inspiring views and my own connection to the spirituality of the mountains. As I grew older my appreciation grew to include nature in all settings, including landscapes, plant life and wildlife. I was given my first camera in dental school by a friend who was upgrading his own camera. It was a Nikon film SLR camera that I knew nothing about. I used it for years still knowing nothing about the camera or photography. It often frustrated me that I couldn’t translate the feelings I had when out taking the pictures to the medium of the slides I was producing. It was hard for me to learn more on my own because of the expense of film and the time gap between shooting and seeing the results. I never took any classes or read any books on photography, so I just tried to place the needle in the center of the light meter and shot whatever I saw. Many years later, along came the digital era and I finally bought my own digital SLR. I took a class from the McKay’s through which I learned more about my camera’s settings. I enrolled in an online photography course to learn more about the basics of photography. I began to get back out into nature and practice, with immediate feedback available and found that I loved taking pictures that more and more began to allow people to feel something beyond just the picture, their own connection to the spirituality of nature.
MPA: Your favorite thing about MPA?
SB: I find MPA to be a combination of three ingredients. David and Ally McKay are the founders and the core of MPA for me. Their staff of helpers and instructors are the second tier and provide more opportunity for input, feedback and learning. The other students are the third and really equal ingredient. I sometimes learn just as much from talking to one of the students or from watching an instructor show something to another student as I do from the one on one time with myself and David, Ally or one of the instructors. I think my favorite thing about MPA is this synergy between everyone involved all working together in some of the great photographic settings that David and Ally take us to. It’s not just listening to someone talk about photography and then trying to figure out how that applies to me, it’s the opportunity to interact in all these different ways that really accelerates learning and amplifies the fun of any shoot.
MPA: Your favorite trip with MPA?
SB: I had to think about this for awhile. I really enjoyed my first outing with MPA in Old Sac. I was having such a good time that I didn’t realize how much I had learned until later when I was on my own. Then I went on the Alcatraz safari and had a great time there. I began to get familiar with some of the other instructors as well on this trip. Then I went to Yosemite and learned even more and had more fun than ever. San Francisco urban safari was again a whole new level of seeing the familiar in a new way. Currently I am so excited to be heading with MPA to Iceland next month. My answer to the question, which trip is my favorite…it has to be “The Next Trip”.
MPA: Your aspirations as a photographer / artist?
SB: I would ultimately love to be able to find a way to market enough nature pictures to finance my desire to travel to increasingly exotic locations to get these pictures. That’s sort of the financial aspect of my aspiration, but I think in order to achieve that, my goal is actually to be able to take a camera and produce pictures that elicit the same feeling in people who see them that I have when I am taking them: namely, “I am so glad to be right here right now to see this”.
MPA: Any info you want to share about yourself and work?
SB: I am 68 years old this year and soon maybe I’ll be a grown-up. I’m not sure this is a good thing. My body seems to be getting older while I seem to be getting younger all the time. I have been a general dentist for most of my adult life and enjoy that as well as it allows an entirely different expression of creativity. I have been blessed with a patient clientele and staff that have been very supportive throughout my career and who allow me to feel like I am always at home with family. Sounds a bit corny to write it down but that has actually always been the way I feel about going to work. I am now beginning to feel that same way about going on photo safaris with MPA, as well as with other photographer friends I have. I have three grandsons ranging from 11 down to three. The eleven year old has taken to photography and knows how to handle and care for my camera gear and has an excellent eye for the pictures he takes on his own. The best times I have are taking him out somewhere like the Effie Yaw Nature Center and tagging along after him as he chases down pictures I would never have thought to take.