Tom Pula Photography
Photography has been a part of my life since I was a teenager when I took my first photo lessons given by a couple of old hands at the local YMCA. Shortly thereafter I got my hands on a Asahi Pentax Spotmatic - an awesome camera in my opinion. With that, I began to shoot photos of about everything in sight, and learned how to develop and print my own film in a darkroom my older brother had set up in our basement.
The emotions I felt seeing the images form as I stared into the darkroom trays were magical and stick with me to this day even in this era of instant gratification of digital photography. There is something I can’t quite put my finger on about the whole process of creating photographic images from the tromping around the landscape or cityscape composing a shot, to adjusting the exposure and light, to editing the final images (known in the old days as developing the film and printing…) and finally printing the images for display. The allure comes in many layers and flavors; but I think it boils down to visualizing an image I think will best recreate and communicate to others what I imagined or what I felt as I viewed the scene as I was shooting.
My eyes really opened to the possibilities when I attended my first workshop given by a photographer/teacher named Gus Kayafas, He was (and still is to my understanding) a technical wizard with a passion for the art of photography that was very infectious. He taught me about and how to use the famous Ansel Adams Zone System and opened a whole new vista of control and creativity for me. I spent a lot of my spare dough for books, photo treks, magazines and the like to learn more and spur dreams of being a future National Geographic photographer. Instead of a life, I developed a liking of dark rooms filled with the aroma of Dektol (an old Kodak B&W developer) and Stop Bath with the sounds of the Allman Brothers in the background. Such was my social life.
Sunbeams and Sweepers 1974
This was my first serious foray into the zone system taken with my Pentax, using Kodak Panatomic-X film, overexposed and underdeveloped to bring out the shadows.
For years after that first entry into the field I had a job in a photo lab/camera shop owned by another infectious character named Tom Hubbard who has continued to teach. There I became the black and white expert in the darkroom, shot everything from news photos for a little local weekly, weddings, product shots, events, you name it.
Marrying and subsequently moving to California, I had an aim to make my mark in the photographic world. As it worked out, though, I went in another direction due to financial demands and a lack of persistence in making the career happen. And while for a few years, photography left and reentered my life as a passion - wavering from the single minded joy of creation to snap shots of the kids - it never really went away completely. I kept my then trusty Canon F1 and continued to shoot and still feel the same thrill of visual possibilities when camping with my family in the wilds of California as I envisioned what I hoped would be impactful images.
Then somewhere in the early 1990s, I began the iconic New York Institute of Photography correspondence course which blasted open the doors for me again giving me tools and techniques and ways of viewing the world in ways I’d never imagined. Since then, I’ve continued to shoot, mostly for my own pleasure and need to sate my need to create, make presents for relatives, fill up the walls of our house and test my mettle.
I moved into the new world of digital and photoshop and I began to hear more and more, “you should sell your prints”, “you should enter this or that contest”, “do you have a website?” I soon began to agree with them. And what good is creating something if you never share it with others? Self satisfaction and pride of accomplishment only goes so far. One of my favorite discussions on that very topic comes from one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaimen:
“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”
At the beginning, this site will be a wee bit skimpy, but will be added to and updated hopefully on a fairly regular basis. I hope you enjoy them and if you do, tell your friends, feel free to make a comment or two and make a purchase! I’d love to see my work on display.