I bought my first 35mm Single Lens Reflex camera in 1969 and it grew from there, adding lenses, lighting and a darkroom. Throughout college, I worked in a camera store at the retail level and also did wedding, portrait, business commercial shoots. I also taught courses in Lighting, Composition, and Darkroom Techniques. A major concern was "What if there was a problem with the film and no photos of this once in a lifetime event are present when the film is developed." Thankfully, it never happened to me as it unfortunately happen to some friends. That was a lot of pressure and I elected to pursuit other interests professionally, including medical, financial, and sales.
With photography, I assumed the label "advanced amateur" and without the pressure, enjoyed photography for photography sake. In retrospect, that was huge and a key to photographic growth and development. It allowed me to develop the intangible – Vision – without the client job delivery pressure as I applied the lighting, composition and post processing concepts that I previously taught. It was further aided by my time in the military as around every three years I had a new location with new photographic opportunities. Finally, as a Realtor other agents in the office saw my photos for new listings and encouraged my return with “Larry, you need to turn pro!”
A lot has happened since 1969. While I still have the film cameras and the darkroom, I have transitioned fully to the digital world. The darkroom is replaced with Photoshop where I can still apply the critical editing and even more creative techniques to photos. Likewise, the cameras and their accessories are now digital. Today I use Nikon DSLR and other professional equipment and software. However, perhaps the biggest change was the instant feedback of digital, that together with frequent backups, alleviated my concern of decades prior.