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My first DSLR camera: Nikon D3400

Photography runs deep in my family. This is the beginning of my journey.

My sister, Whitney Owen, was a professional photographer for Disney, running the photography training program for years before she moved into the Entertainment department to manage parades at Magic Kingdom. She revolutionized the way character interactions were shot, and in doing so, she opened Aulani in Hawaii. At Aulani, she was tasked with scouting photo locations and training all of the photographers and leads. So, no shit, if you go stay at Disney and walk past a photo spot, MY SISTER probably identified that location. And the last bragging bit on my sister (there’s so much more), she helped to roll out the character photography program in Hong Kong. Her fiance (!!!!), Bruno Ferreira, is an excellent photographer as well.

My father, Chris Owen, has been a travel writer since 2001. He launched his first travel website, LifeisCruising.com, right after 9/11. He’s been into photography since he was 22, with the exception of about 5 years while film was evolving into digital. I remember we went through 45 rolls of film during our first big family vacation to Disney World in 1995.

My cousin Georgia captures the most beautiful portraits – I’m particularly mesmerized by her senior portraits. I don’t know about you guys, but where I grew up, it was a REALLY BIG DEAL to get your senior portraits taken. I was fortunate to have family who was insanely talented in this regard, but I remember seeing all of my friends’ photos and being a bit envious of the whole photoshoot “experience”. I don’t know any of the kids that Georgia is working with, but I feel like I do just looking at the photos. That’s a gift in and of itself.

Though not blood related, my mother-in-law, Lydia Williams, has an insane eye as well. Her work has been featured in calendars, puzzles, local shows, etc. I love seeing the world through her eyes, especially since she’s also on the other side of the country in New Hampshire.

Last week, when my folks were in town for Thanksgiving, I took them out to Sunset Cliffs for their first San Diego Sunset (yes, all title-case, SD sunsets are legit and they deserve the respect of capitalization). Dad brought his camera with his big ass lens and was shooting everything – surfers, tourists taking selfies (fortunately nobody died on our trip), the homes along Sunset Cliffs Blvd, and of course, of me and my mother.

I asked him if I could take some pictures of them and just otherwise tinker with his camera. I posted some of those shots earlier this week. After he processed them, he told me “you know, you could be good at this if you wanted to be.”

I’ve been interested in photography for forever, but it was always my sister’s thing. I was a writer. She was a photographer. That’s the way it was. This wasn’t a point of contention, let me be clear. I didn’t have some deep unserved longing for photography or anything, that’s just how we divided up our creative pursuits. We shared A LOT, bedrooms, clothes, toys, food, space, laughs, fights – but writing and photography? Those were OUR things. Separate, but together.

So when Dad said I could be good at this, it was just the nudge I needed to bite the bullet and purchase a real camera. Actually, scratch that. When my friend Chris, who I adore, love, and trust told me that, I took that nod and ran with it.

You see, that’s one of the best parts of last week, getting to know my folks as Chris and Lisa Owen, not just mom and dad. And that was as much fatherly advice as it was friendly, but I took it to come from the lips of a seasoned professional.

So it would be fitting that yesterday, on my way home from dropping Barry off ass-early at the train station, that Princess Cruises‘ Ruby Princess would be pulling into the Port of San Diego.

My first natural-light shots with this camera are of a cruise ship. Go figure. A chip off the old block, indeed.

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