It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring Bill Fortney!
Photography for the Joy of It!
I’m coming up on my 40th anniversary as a photographer! What does that mean? Well you could say I was close, personal friends with George Eastman, but that was little further back! What it means is that for the past 40 years I’ve supported my family, made lots of friends and acquaintances, and seen many great things… And I’m even more excited to be a photographer than I was at the beginning! Let me share with you how to have a childlike enthusiasm about being a shooter, even at my advanced age! How old am I? Well let’s just say my social security number is 1! No I’m 63, but my doctor said, “With a body like your’s you should donate it to science fiction!”
Photography has brought me three great things, people, places and, well photography itself!
People. The greatest gifts that photography has given me are all the great people it has brought into my life. Great friends like Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, (and the rest of his merry gang), John Shaw, David Muench, Mark Kettenhofen, Art Wolfe, Jim Brandenburg, Joe McNally, Moose Peterson the late Galen Rowell and John Netherton. I could go on and on forever about the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to teach, shoot in the field with and become great friends. Photography led me to a deep friendship with Charles Stanley, and Ricky Skaggs just to name a few more. Dear friends like Chuck Summers and Don Nelson. Wow, I better stop now before this gets out of hand! I’m not bragging or dropping names, I’m just blessed beyond belief. I think the point I’m feebly trying to make is that people enrich our lives and they help us to be better than we would have ever been on our own. They help us grow and add great joy to our lives, many, many people have given me that gift by just letting me be their friend!
Places. In the past 40 years I’ve been a newspaper and magazine photojournalist, sports photographer (official photographer for the Washington Redskins), a medical photographer, nature photographer and teacher, and now I’m a tech rep for Nikon. Guess you could say I couldn’t keep a job!
I’ve seen shuttle launches, Super Bowls, and every major national park at least 25 times! Years ago I did a magazine for an energy company, and in the process interviewed and photographed over 60 celebrities, including, Red Skelton, Barbara Mandrell, Johnny Unitas, Paul “Bear” Bryant and many others. When I ran the Great American Photography Weekends, a company my wife Sherelene and I formed over 16 years ago, I drove 70,000 miles per year for ten years going to all the most beautiful places across America, plus Africa and the Galapagos Islands. No, I didn’t drive there! Did I say something earlier about being blessed!!??
Experiences are the basket of riches we salt away to pull out, time and time again, to savor and enjoy. My basket is overflowing!
Photography itself. My first camera was a Nikkormat FTN way back in 1968. I was a high school football coach and teacher, but knew I wanted to be a photographer. I still hold a record at the high school where I coached, it will never be broken as the school closed last year! My freshman team not only didn’t win a single game, we never scored in and entire season! As I said, I was destined to be a photographer.
I’ve owned virtually every model of camera ever made by Nikon. I never met a lens I didn’t like! And very few I didn’t buy! Going to work for Nikon saved my life. At least now they loan me the ones I can’t afford! Photography has never been more fun or rewarding, digital has changed everything! To tell the truth, when I joined Nikon, Inc. I was close to being burned out. Been there – done that! Digital started my enthusiasm all over again! Photography also opened up one of the other major dreams of my life, becoming a pilot.
In order to do a book on America, my son Wesley and I learned to fly ultra light airplanes, then drove 73,000 miles across America to do a book, America from 500 Feet. The book came out on September 7th, just four days before the September 11th. People fell in love with America again, and the book, to our shock, became the biggest selling aviation landscape book on America of all time. I’ve now done 5 books, the last of which was with my dear friend Mark Kettenhofen – America From 500 Feet II!
So if you want to last at this for 40 years and still be having fun, here is the formula; Embrace the People, Enjoy the Places (adventures), and be captivated by our incredible craft!
If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website.
And if you would like to come along with me on my journey please visit my blog.
Thank you Scott for sharing your great group of friends with me and for your incredible friendship.
God bless to all,