Photography, Our Common Ground

9 Jul


Story by: Larry Novotny

Being a father with three teenage boys, these past years have been very rewarding, but with a challenge only a parent could understand. I seem to be continually bombarded with and on guard from their three very distinct and quite different personalities.  Each needs to be handled differently than the other and it seems you can never let down your guard. However being at 52 years old, they keep me sharp and on my toes.

I have often joked, yet the truth is, that my second son Aaron “is my greatest challenge in life”. Strong willed, artsy, energetic when interested, sloth like when not and manipulative.  Although with these traits, not all being bad, he has always stuck out from his brothers as being the “Hot Potato”.

A little background:

To the best of my memory, I believe I started shooting film somewhere around the fourth or fifth grade one summer. With some instruction from my Dad, I shot my first photo of him in the backyard using a Yashica 635 that used a 120mmx120mm film. I was off and running. If I wasn’t taking pictures after school I was most likely riding my bike to K-mart to pick up pictures and/or buy some more “Plus-X”. I most likely drove the photo department nuts from calling.

Come the early 80’s, as life had started to roll over me, I laid down the cameras and was forced to conform to what was required of me by everyone else, work.  I had gone through a Pentax K1000, Minolta SRT101 and finally I lay to rest my Minolta XGM.

Going back about four of five years ago now, I was fortunate to be able to rekindle my love for photography in the digital age.  Starting out with a higher end Kodak point and shoot, I learned a little about editing with the Easy Share software and soon impressed myself, or so I thought at the time.

So here is where the point of this story really starts and blossoms. When I made the decision and jumped up to the DSLRs, against my wife’s wishes, I made peace by offering my Kodak stuff to Aaron.

My first photo with my new Nikon D-60 is of Aaron taking a picture of me. Aaron, then 11, was taking on photography with the full force of a category 5 Prairie Dust Devil. Now he was off and running. In the beginning it was very difficult for me to field his questions when we were out and about in the field. I was always struggling to get the shots as I had envisioned them and with not being comfortable with features and technology of the DSLR’s, sometimes I felt bothered by Aaron and his constant questions. Eventually I started to recognize or feel that he was sensing my frustration with him. Although we never discussed it, I started to feel like a selfish boob, which brought up old feelings of my childhood and I couldn’t risk to ruin the one thing we were both becoming passionate over.

Recognizing that something had to change, I spent more of my time with Aaron, as more of a scouting opportunity for myself and would often go back to these spots while he was in school. I would still shoot with him but not as seriously. It has paid off well and the only thing he needs from me now is a ride to the sites of interest.

Why am I writing this story?

Aaron and I both enjoy night photography and with the darkness come the time exposures. This past Saturday, I wanted to play with shooting one of our local cable suspension bridges that is beautifully lit every evening.  When we were done studying “Google Earth” to find the best position and once we got past the Coast Guard “No Trespassing” sign, in the dark, we discovered a light house (now a private residence) that I never knew existed.  We both decided to change our focus on this subject and started to set up and shoot. Aaron got a little mixed up in his camera operation which yielded a very interesting result and yelled “Hey Dad look at this”. Holy Cow! I quickly tried to duplicate his mistake and got what I think is one of the best photos I have ever taken.

I would have never gotten this picture without Aaron, mistake or not.

Today between the two of us we share three Nikon bodies, multiple Nikkor lenses ranging from 10mm up to 400mm, gadgets, gadgets, gadgets and no less than five magazine subscriptions. We would love to be able to share and sell more of our pictures, but only to be able to buy more equipment.

Aaron is still my biggest challenge, partly because he is 15, partly because he is who he is (a little bit me). But when we are around cameras, either physically or in conversation, we are at peace and I feel we both enjoy the calm, the excitement and the bond that is only ours. 


Aarons first camera, Larry’s first photo with a DSLR

The Mistake, Nikon D90, 10-24mm wide angle, f4.5, 200 iso and a 25 second time exposure. No post editing light enhancement.

Take a look at some other photos from The Novotny Group!

We are looking forward to our next festival, The City Art Festival on August 6, 2011!! 

And “Like” Festival Fete on Facebook! 

Check out The City Art Festival video to see the fabulous artists and vendors who will be at the show! :]

The City Art Festival is proud to be sponsered by Webster Bank along with City of Providnce, Cardi’s Furniture, RI MonthlyWhole FoodsNatural Awakenings, Yelp and Cat Country-WCTK.


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