Pittman’s Passion: A snapshot of how a Nicholson native found photography

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion, and at an early age, Houston Pittman found his.

It all started when Pittman was 6-years-old. He picked up a magazine and inside of it was an advertisement for a competition, touting a prize for the person who sold the most sunflower seeds or Christmas cards.

The prize? A black and white film camera.

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Pittman traveled to neighbor’s doorsteps, and every house he possibly could, to ultimately win the prize. A couple of weeks later, he received a package that changed his life.

“I immediately fell in love with photography after winning that camera. I would take pictures of everything, and it drove my mother crazy,” Pittman said. “She would always tell me, ‘I’m gonna go broke buying you film.’”

After graduating from high school, Pittman took a break from photography, focusing on his pursuits of a career.

“Back then, you didn’t really think about pursuing photography as a career because there was no money to be made, unlike today,” he said.

However, his longing of looking through the lens caught up with him and after starting a family, he got back to his passion, taking his newly acquired Yashica GSN model camera everywhere his family went.

Later on, a friend invited him to take pictures at a friend’s wedding, which Pittman gladly accepted. As Pittman arrived at the wedding, he noticed the couple already hired a professional photographer, so at first, he sat back and watched him to see if he could pick up any pointers.

As he did, Pittman detected something strange.

“He was only taking shots horizontally, in landscape mode the whole time,” he said.

After a while, Pittman started taking pictures of his own, but changed it up from landscape to portrait, taking pictures of the bride in portrait mode as she walked down the aisle.

When the couple got back from their honeymoon, Pittman graciously decided to give them the pictures he took. As he handed them the pictures, it brought the bride to tears.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness are they that bad?’ But she replied, ‘You don’t understand,’” Pittman said.

As she handed Pittman the pictures of what the professional photographer took, he quickly realized that every single picture of the couple was from the chest up, not telling the truthful story of the couple on their wedding day, he said.

“I like to use my camera to create memories for the future. I’ve taken photos of old barns that don’t exist anymore, people that are no longer here. You are creating something that will stay.”

Pittman enjoys all aspects of photography, but what he like the most is taking pictures of wildlife because it gives him a sense of peace and tranquility.

“It’s something that is only there for a split second and then it’s gone,” he said.

Pittman takes photos of birds in his backyard, and several photos were recently published in the Birds & Blooms magazine, one of which tells a unique story.

The photo is of a black capped chickadee perched on a branch, trying to get a seed from the small bird feeder next to it. In his initial attempt to get the seed, other birds began to dive-bomb the chickadee to steal the seed.

“He worked and worked and worked until the other birds flew away. Then out of nowhere, I saw a quick movement and snapped a picture,” Pittman said.

The little bird dropped the seed that he worked so hard to get, and Pittman captured the moment.

“It’s things like that that keep me going,” he said.

Pittman pursues photography in his spare time, but for a living, he has worked at Winn-Dixie for over 20 years, and is now part of a new program called the Smart Associate program, which he said helps keep his passion of photography alive.

“Photography has gotten so expensive over the years. There are so many components and gadgets you have to buy along with these upscale cameras,” he said.

Pittman said has always enjoyed photography, and advises kids that are thinking about getting into the field to pick up a camera and just start shooting every chance they get.

“Don’t let people push you away from your passion or what you enjoy taking photos of. I was self-taught and got where I am today because I grabbed every opportunity that I could to get practice,” he said.

Pittman said that by following what feels right, it will be easier to gain knowledge about the technical parts of the hobby.