Dajiro Jones bought a Nikon D80 eight years ago for the same reason that many people buy a nice camera–to take and share photos of his newborn daughter. Over the years he has documented a lifetime of firsts and shared them with friends and family around the world. While this sounds like standard operating procedure for any new parent, what’s amazing is that Jones, with no prior photography experience, has taken some stunning photos, winning a number of cute baby photo contests along the way. What’s his secret? How does someone go from no photography experience at all to winning photo contests? We sat down with Jones to discuss his unlikely success:
NCN: So you’ve been happy with the camera?
Jones: Totally! It’s been great fun documenting our little daughter as she grows up.
NCN: And you’ve managed to win a number of prestigious awards with your photos…
Jones: I know! Crazy isn’t it? We’ve managed to win a number of photo contests, which has gone right into little Samantha’s college fund. At this point, we’ve got the first year paid for!
NCN: That’s great! Have you set aside any money for additional gear?
Jones: Additional gear? Why?
NCN: That’s what a lot of photographers do–they upgrade their gear regularly to improve their photography.
Jones: Oh….well the D80 is still working great. And the kit lens has a couple of small scratches on it but it’s still getting the job done.
NCN: How many lenses do you have?
Jones: Just the one.
NCN: Just the kit lens?
Jones: Yup. It came with the camera and goes from 18 to 135, whatever that means. All I know is that I set it to 135 when I want to get close and 18 when I want to fit everything in.
NCN: Are you aware that you’re not getting any significant bokeh with your kit lens?
Jones: What’s a bokeh?
NCN: It’s a photographic technique where you blur the background to bring more attention to the subject. Some of our readers obsess about it.
Jones: Oh. That’s interesting….Hey look at this great photo I took of my daughter in the second grade production of Camus’ “The Stranger”! I posted this on Facebook and all of our friends and relatives liked it. And we just won $500 for it.
NCN: Someone adapted Camus’ The Stranger for theater? For second graders?
Jones: Yeah. Last year in the first grade they did Kafka’s Metamorphosis. So I guess they wanted to switch things up a bit this year. It was pretty trippy. But a good kind of trippy. I wouldn’t be surprised if it put a number of the kids and parents into an existential crisis.
NCN: Wow, that’s a really profound photo, capturing a pivotal point in the story. It’s so poignant and captures the zeitgeist of Camus’ age. That’s really something…with second graders no less….
NCN: And you took that with the D80 and the kit lens?
Jones: Yup. I just keep the camera in AUTO and shoot when the time is right.
NCN: Wait…you shot this in AUTO?
Jones: (picking up D80 and showing mode set to AUTO/Green mode) Yup. When I first got the camera I tried some of these other modes. But none have worked better than AUTO so I just keep it there.
NCN: How long have you had it in AUTO mode?
Jones: Like I said, pretty much ever since I bought it, except for an afternoon of experimenting.
NCN: Amazing…But do you think that you could have more creative control in Manual Mode, or even Aperture or Shutter Priority?
Jones: You kidding? I bet you Canon’s got a hundred Jap engineers working to make the AUTO mode as good as possible. I’m not so arrogant to think that I’ll do a better job than them.
NCN: You do realize that calling the engineers in Japan “Japs” is racist.
Jones: Now that you mention it, you’r probably right. Can you remove that from the interview?
NCN: Sorry, but we do hard, truthful news. We don’t sugar coat it.
Jones: Damn. Does that mean that I can’t run for public office now?
NCN: Probably not.
Jones: I’m one-quarter Japanese though…
NCN: Doesn’t matter. The media is a cruel mistress.
Jones: Oh well….Here, look at this one. We took this a couple of years ago at a corn maze. What a fun day that was.
NCN: (pausing) Wow. The composition here is fantastic. You’ve really captured what it feels like to be a small child simultaneously excited and a bit nervous about being in a maze of tall corn. And the light is just exquisite here.
Jones: Thanks. This won a number of “Fall Color” contests.
NCN: And you did this with the D80 and the 18-135 kit lens?
Jones: Yup…why do you sound so surprised?
NCN: Oh…nothing. It’s just….it’s just that….nevermind…Thanks for the interview.