Portland, Oregon-based photographer - 503.421.5700

The Day I Turned "Pro"

Added on by Thomas Boyd.

It's interesting how much stuff I've rediscovered after moving into a new house. I was going through boxes and found a receipt from the first professional camera and lenses I bought.

At first I extended my arm toward the trash can and then froze. I realized it signified the day I became a professional photographer. At that moment, on June 9, 1990, at least in my mind, I turned pro.

It was the moment when I was all in. There was no turning back. It was that..or failure... and failure wasn't an option. I had been out the Marine Corps for two years enrolled at Portland State University. I was getting assignments from The Oregonian and the Associated Press at the time. I was using an Olympus OM-4 and OM-1, which were somewhat acceptable for a pro, but not quite. Especially since the Nikon F4 was out. It was autofocus and everyone was moving in that direction. I decided that's what I needed if I were to work as photojournalist.

I see from the receipt, that Citizen's Photo gave me $655 for all the Olympus gear I traded in. That may seem like a lot but I had at least five lenses including a 180/2.8. With that, I owed them $2350 for the F4, an 80-200/2.8, 24/2.8 and a 35/2.

I sold my banjo, my shotgun, my hunting rifle and other stuff to come up with the money and I still didn't have enough.

I remembered I had just received my student grant check in the mail for about $1600. It was meant to pay my tuition. I didn't think that through very well. I was dead broke walking out of that store. I had no money for tuition. In one of the very few times in my life, I went to may Dad for money. He didn't give me too much grief and wrote a check. If not for that, I would have had to drop out of Portland State University. He must have been expecting it sooner and was pleased it took me two years to hit him up! I'll have to ask him about that.

Getting this equipment did change a lot for me. It gave me confidence. It made me feel serious and it put pressure on me to move forward and work as hard as I could. I began to pick a good deal more freelance work while working on the student paper at PSU. Two years after that, I scored a great job at The Columbian with a one year temporary full-time position. I was there for five years. I upgraded all of that equipment in the following years, but I used the same 35/2 until 2005.

Check out the price of a 80-200/2.8. The newest version of that lens is $2400. Oddly, the short primes haven't increased in price nearly as much.

Check out the price of a 80-200/2.8. The newest version of that lens is $2400. Oddly, the short primes haven't increased in price nearly as much.