How Sears Changed My Life

July 1, 2016

<b><i>I tried to find a photo of me in college to accompany this entry, but there just weren't any that were suitable.<br><br>

So here is a current photo of me along with my assistant, Blitz. He accompanies me on many photo adventures providing companionship, security and advice.</i></b>

I tried to find a photo of me in college to accompany this entry, but there just weren't any that were suitable.

So here is a current photo of me along with my assistant, Blitz. He accompanies me on many photo adventures providing companionship, security and advice.

I'm often asked how I got started in photography. I wish the answer was inspirational, but really, it's just that I got a credit card. The summer before my senior year in college, Sears sent me my first credit card. Like any 20-year-old who doesn't have a clue about fiscal responsibility, the first thing I did was hop in my car to go buy something I didn't need, just because I could.

I sat in my car in the Woodfield Mall parking lot for about 20 minutes deciding what to buy. Then I remembered my father had recently purchased a Minolta 35mm SLR camera I thought was pretty cool. That was it. I decided to go in and see if Sears sold cameras.

Sure enough, Sears had a camera department back in the day. I picked out the Sears KS-1 camera which came with a 50mm lens and got an 80-200mm zoom lens to go along with it. I plopped down my credit card and a photographer was born.

I fell in love with photography that summer and everything changed for me. After years of worrying I would never find what I wanted to do with my life, I was finally excited. I was going to study photojournalism. There was just one problem. I wasn't registered for the class I needed to start the program and the university said it was full.

When fall came around, I hauled myself out of bed at 6 a.m. on the first day of classes and made the 45-mile trek from Hoffman Estates to DeKalb to attend the 8 a.m. photojournalism class for which I was not registered. It was packed.

When the class ended, I approached the professor and and asked if I could get in. He said no. I explained that I was excited about the program and didn't want to wait another year to get started. If it was a matter of equipment, I told him I would bring my own. He hesitated and said, "I'll see you Wednesday."

That may not seem remarkable to anyone who knows me now. But for 20-year-old Mitch who liked to get up at the crack of noon, who rarely took initiative and who was running a little short on self-confidence, it was downright amazing. I'm still not sure what possessed me to make the effort that day. But that class and that professor changed my life. I'll write more about him in my next post.

So that's how I got started. I made a purchase on a whim, found something I loved to do and found a teacher who inspired me and helped me develop that passion -- all thanks to Sears.

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