A Boy in Jamaica and a Girl in Romania

HBP was born equally by accident and through deliberate, painstaking cultivation. Photographers are often told “your pictures are so good! You have such a good camera!” Someone once told me, “that’s like saying someone’s a good cook because they have good pots.” I really believe that photography, like other crafts, is both gifted and learned. Talented photographers have a natural “eye,” but their skills can and must improve over time. Possessing such a talent is a gift, and with any gift comes the responsibility to use it well. I have spent the past decade trying to be a good steward of my gifts by honing my skills and launching a business that brings joy and beauty to others. 

But, before I started making money though photography, I was just a young woman that loved to travel and bring home photos that communicated my experiences. This is where the story of Holly Baumann Photography begins.

Boy and Truck, Jamaica, 1998
In 1998, I went with a group of other Anderson University students for two weeks on a “Tri-S” trip to Mandeville, Jamaica. We tried to do work, but really, the guys ended up doing most of the masonry at a local church while us girls played with the local children, who literally hung on us all day (I don’t think some of them had ever seen blonde hair before). This little boy was one of those children.  

I am not sure what speaks to people about this photo; it’s rather graphic and even controversial; there’s nothing romantic about real poverty. He looks somewhat scared, and so vulnerable. But, but it consistently stops people in their tracks, and has always been one of my most popular images, despite being captured on 35mm film with consumer-level gear. 

Girl in Window, Romania, 2000
Later, in 2000, three weeks after graduating from college, I hopped a plane to Romania with only a backpack and one suitcase. I was going to volunteer for the New Horizons Foundation; I stayed for almost a year and a half. Life there was simple, fresh, honest, lonely, challenging, enriching, full or music, ciorba, fresh bread, new friends, new language, and personal growth. In September of 2000, I travelled with friends to Sighisoara for their annual medieval festival. While wandering the streets of this beautifully preserved, walled city, I noticed a girl sitting in a window, watching the festival below. 

I took this photo so quickly I didn’t even really think about it, and didn’t see it for several weeks, since I had to wait for the film to be developed. The image is close to my heart, because it conjures memories of my home and life in Romania, of the people and traditions that became a part of who I am today. And, in one of the highest compliments ever paid me, someone once said it belonged in National Geographic, which as you may know is one of my favorite things. 🙂

The Original Holly Baumann Photography Archive System
During my travels around Romania and Europe, I kept each developed roll of film in its original canister, numbered each container, and logged the location and contents of each numbered roll in a spiral bound notebook that I carried around with me. I still have that original notebook:

Although rudimentary, this system worked well as my first archive. Storing the film in such a way protected them from light and other damage as I trotted around the globe, pulling them in and out of suitcases, and moving multiple times around the US once I returned. Since then, I’ve scanned most of those rolls onto high resolution DVDs, which backs them up and allows me to use them on my website. Although expensive, this conversion has been invaluable. 

The two photos above, shot by a complete rookie with a low-cost camera and film, resulted in such accolades and encouragement from others that, ten years later, here I am with a legitimate photography business. They inspired me to keep shooting. They showed me that I have the eye, that successful photography requires more than “good pots.”

To purchase Boy and Truck or Girl in Window, please visit my fine art galleries

– HBA

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About Holly Baumann Photography

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, a commercial and portrait photographer based in Central Illinois. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
This entry was posted in Fine Art & Personal Projects, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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