It still makes me giddy thinking about it. Me, an Olympus Visionary. Well, actually "Trailblazer" to be more specific.
I've always loved my Olympus cameras. It's the only brand I've ever shot with. I started with the OM1n back in the 70s. A young, skinny teenager who would spend hours hiking through the country side where I grew up, carefully composing a shot. Only when I thought it was perfect would I press the shutter. Every 'click' cost me money so composition was key. Years later I looked through the thousands of slides I'd taken and only a few were really any good. But I did learn a lot about photography.
Fast forward to 2001. During the previous 15 years I'd hardly picked up the camera. Teaching career, family, home renos - these were my priorities and I consumed them wholeheartedly. My children didn't want to hang out with dad all the time, my career was on track and I needed a hobby again. I decided to invest in a new-fangled digital camera. My Olympus had never let me down, so I thought I'd give it another go. I purchased the small Camedia 3040z at a cost of $1200 for a whole 3.2 megapixels. Yikes! (I can't believe I spent that much!)
Alright let's speed this reminiscing up a bit...
I then upgraded to my first DSLR - the E-500 (great camera - really loved it), then the E-510 (which I eventually gave to my dad) and the E-30. All of these models were at least one step below the company's 'professional' cameras, but that was okay. I wasn't a professional. And I really liked the image quality of each of them.
So, how do you get noticed by a major camera manufacturer? Believe me, I wasn't trying to get noticed. I just liked to post my work online. In 2009 I started posting on the Canadian Geographic site and in 2011 I started on 500px.com. In 2012 I received my first request from Olympus asking if they could post some of my photos on their Facebook page. They had seen my work on 500px. I was honoured, but didn't think much about it. Those requests occurred two more times and each time I was pleased to be asked.
Then came the big phone call. In March of this year I received a request for an interview. I had just had a small interview for a photography magazine in the UK so I assumed it would be something like that - "Tell us about your photography." "Why do you shoot Olympus?", etc. The interview was nothing like that.
"Hi Peter. We've been following your work for several months now and we like what we see. Have you heard of the Visionary Program?"
...and the rest, as they say, is history.
Peter Baumgarten is a professional photographer and educator. He is also an Olympus Visionary and NiSi Official Photographer.