The Beginning
March 4th, 2010

Train Sculpture, Goose Bay, Labrador

I have for some time (just over a year) debated whether or not I wished to join the ranks of those who blog. While I was taking my sweet time to think about it, many people have encouraged me to take the plunge. Maybe they know things I don’t; so here we go. Welcome to my blog!

I suppose that the best place to start this blog is at my photographic beginning. For me, that was my childhood in Labrador, Canada. I don’t remember what sparked my first interest in photography. I suspect it was a bit of paternal imitation. My father took photos (often very nice ones when he didn’t have uncooperative children hamming it up in front of his lens; I remember some beautiful aurora borealis photos that he took with me in tow). He was my childhood idol; so I’m sure that there was a connection between his passion for photography and my budding interest in photography. What I definitely remember was that every Christmas morning I’d gleefully find my Christmas stocking overflowing with film and flashcubes. Anybody else remember flashcubes? You could get four flashes from one cube! Of course, there wasn’t much hope of off-camera flash with those babies. I don’t miss them, but I did love the sound they made when they fired. A subtle but convincing “poof!” Each was a mini-explosion. That’s pretty cool stuff for a child. Actually, I still like mini-explosions. Maybe I should check eBay for some 70s-style flash cubes. Or maybe I’ll just go out in my backyard and blow something up. (My neighbors won’t read this right? No worries; I have no close neighbors.)

The photo at the beginning of this post is the first color photo that I remember taking. It probably wasn’t the first, but it’s what I remember. And, unfortunately, we’ve got to work with my memory here. Also, the photo gets some credit for duration. Taken and printed in 1974, it’s 36 years old. Yikes! That was a long time ago. (This is a scan of a print, but I actually think that I still have the negative.)

I was very impressed with these snow and ice sculptures that were built every year during winter carnival. Now, of course, I wonder what in the hell the adults who built them were thinking. Labrador isn’t exactly sunny and warm in the winter. It’s frigid. There were days when we weren’t allowed outside. And by “we” I don’t mean my siblings and I; I mean the general inhabitants. It was cold, cold, cold. Of course, now I understand why all the adults had colorful plastic walking canes that they only used in the winter. They were hollow and FULL of alcohol! I think that only we children felt the true bite of the cold. But, being kids, we didn’t really care. Snowball fights were far more fun than standing around with chattering teeth. (For the record, if you lick metal when it’s really cold, your tongue will indeed stick.)

As I write this, I’m thinking of all the photos that I didn’t take but should have. Where’s the photo of the igloo that my father built us one winter? Where’s a photo of those colorful, alcohol-filled canes? And the results when emptied? Where’s a photo to show the frigid temperature? The snowball fights? Tongues stuck to metal? Zooming around on the snowmobiles? The mosquitoes the size of eagles? (OK, that part isn’t true, but we had been lead to believe something similar when we were moving to Labrador. They were indeed fierce, but they weren’t the size of eagles. But they were sometimes as mean as vultures!) Or a photo of the seaplane gliding across the forest lake for a summer getaway at Camp No-Name?

I actually have quite a few photos that I took in Labrador before moving to the US when I was eight. I chose to post this one for a few reasons. One is because it is indeed the first color photo that I remember taking. Also I don’t think anybody wants to see all the photos I took of my cat Yankee (easy folks from the southern US; she was the counterpart to our dog Rebel). And while my wife Silvia encouraged me to post a photo of my father with a rainbow trout that he had just caught, I’m not 100% certain that I actually took that photo. (The memory plays tricks – some good, some less good.) Most of all, I chose this photo because, really, it can only get better from here.

It’s not a very good photo. Actually, it’s a horrible photo. I was giving myself a bit of a break, being only seven and all at the time, but facts are facts. They don’t give discounts for age.

You got all the way down here, and I’m only up to when I was seven. Sorry! I might in the future post more about my initial photographic endeavors, but I won’t make this blog a story of it. Promise. The next post will be something more current. This was just the beginning. (I’m heading to New Orleans on Friday; so maybe I’ll post something from the Big Easy. Or, you tell me; what do you want to read?)

22 Responses to “The Beginning”

  1. Marco Ryan says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere. The site looks great Jeffrey and I loved the first post. remembering Flash cubes I’m afraid puts us both in a certain “Generational” bucket!

    I’d love to hear some of your assignments stories – amusing anecdotes, how you got around a particular problem, what you learned, something that taps into your unique experiences. There are too many review and technical blogs out there and not enough story tellers. We all love to listen or read stories, and I suspect that you might be not just a master visual storyteller, but a bit of a scribe too!

  2. Mark Olwick says:

    Congratulations on the new blog, Jeffrey. I’m looking forward to following your adventure, thoughts and photography!


  3. Luciano Teghillo says:

    Eh, eh…now I know we are on the same time line…beautiful pops indeed from those little cubes. As Marco, I would love to hear your stories, lessons learned, but I would not mind the occasional technical tip.

    I love the clean, white look of the blog. Your first story brought back lots of memories and a bit of regret for all those pictures that will soon start to fade in my memory (ah, the age thing).

    See you soon.

  4. Welcome, Jeffrey! Great start to what I think will be a great blog (just to set some expectations :-) )

    I’m with Marco in that I’d like to hear a little about your assignment work—how you got into it, what challenges you’ve faced as a professional photographer, etc. But I’d also like to hear your “why”. When does your muse show up and what triggers that? Why do you shoot what you do? It’s always great to hear that.

    Congrats on beating Resistance and again, welcome!

  5. Jeff Fielding says:

    Well done! I like the look and I love the story.
    Looking forward to April.


  6. Tim Humble says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Welcome! I’m with the others above in saying that the site/blog looks great! Looking forward to reading your future posts.

    Hope to catch up in person somewhere along the line.

    Cheers mate …

  7. Anna Velkey-Solvberg says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    This is great news, the look of your brand spanking new blog is really neat! And let me say this, I am grateful that you started at the beginning – it also helps us join in!

    This will take us all on an exciting journey!

    So up for adventure…

  8. Chris Ward says:

    Congratulations on adding another thing to your schedule that takes up time :-)

    I been in Quebec and Newfoundland, but not Labrador. That must have been quite the place. Glad you have pictures from back then.

    I guess you don’t need advice on being careful about what and how you say things. Especially if you bring on guest bloggers. ;-)

    Have fun with your blog. I’ll stop by from time to time.


    PS. I’ll try not to leave so many smileys in the future

  9. Syl Arena says:

    Jeffrey -

    Welcome to the blogosphere!

    There’s always room in the neighborhood for another insightful voice like yours.


  10. Nice job, Jeffrey! I also remember the flashcubes! Enjoyed your post…nice humor and interesting too! Look forward to meeting you in person this weekend!

  11. Natalie says:

    Awesome Jeffrey!

  12. Erin Wilson says:

    I hope you find blogging as satisfying as a flash cube pop.
    Peace :)

  13. sabrina says:

    Hi Jeffrey, what’s a flashcube?

    Just kidding! I am one of those people who has been impatiently waiting to hear your voice in this arena. I am a sucker for a great story. I’m sure you have many so just keep writing and posting your images and I’ll be a happy camper.


  14. Jeff Lynch says:

    I actually found an old, unused flash cube in a box of slides a few weeks back. Brings back fond memories of on-camera flash providing that 1970’s deer-in-the-headlights look that was so popular. How time does fly.

    OK, seriously. Best wishes for a long and prosperous blog Jeffrey. Got to feed that monster every weekday!


  15. Mark says:

    Welcome! I, like you, resisted for awhile. I, unlike you, am a pretty unknown in the photo world. But I’ve “met” a lot of great people through my blog and we all share the same common denominator – showing the world in front of our lens. I’ll check back here often.

  16. Ohhh…. the flashcubes! I hope you will enjoy blogging.

  17. That’s all we needed, yet another blog by an awesome photographer turned awesome writer…gee, will we ever catch a break? :)

  18. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Who knew that flashcubes would connect?!!! A huge thanks to all of you for the compliments and encouragement. I’ve heard you loud and clear and will be throwing in stories whenever I can. You just have to promise not to treat them like bedtime stories and fall asleep! :-)

  19. Patrick Woodruff says:

    great site! The first blog I’ve ever really checked out. Can’t wait for more.

  20. Welcome. You also brought back memories of my dad taking photos with his Argus 35mm camera and those flashcubes.

  21. Dawn says:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    I remember the winter carnival and Goose Bay with fondness myself! My family lived at CFB Goose Bay 1971-72. I was 6 and and have many treasured memories of it, in fact I was just looking for pictures of the fantastic ice sculptures to show my daughter and came across your blog. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :) Dawn

  22. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    Hi Dawn, we might have been classmates! I was in Goose Bay from 1971 to 1975, and I was 5 in 1971 (and then, of course, 6 in 1972). Small world! J.

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