Point of view: To those who helped me learn to do this

Were it not for mentors, today I would not be practicing the profession I love at the level I do. A high school teacher sent me back into the darkroom again and again to perfect a print. Money was tight as a fledgling freelancer, so my gratitude swelled when the chief photographer at a large institution would grab a handful of fresh film and stick it in my camera bag. Later, a bearded ball of energy dispensed wisdom as he flitted about his apartment studio, infusing me with the courage to make my mark. Nearly 20 years ago, a photo editor at this paper took a risk and sent "green" me to Washington. He later steered me to South Korea, where I took photos that propelled me into the realm of shooting for national magazines.

Another photographer carefully explained to me how I can always go back and shoot a scene that has intrigued me. On a recent walk I saw this clogged drain set into a footbridge over a highway. I was stunned by the palpable order of the arrangement of plants - like a variety pack for sale at a nursery. I returned several days later with my camera. Thank you, Steve, Joe, Neal, Jerry, and Rick.

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