My First Time

Untitled photo

When I’m out and about shooting, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is how I got started.

If I recall correctly, it was June of 1980. I was walking in to the Berkeley Open (a ginormous grass doubles tournament, over 600 teams playing double elimination on two fields). In those days of yore there were no commercial net systems, so we played on nets attached to 2x2 wood posts and polyethylene guy ropes.

A young gentleman stopped and asked me for directions. It turns out he was playing for Penn State at the time (more on him later).

The excitement of a huge volleyball event was nearly too much for a young volleydork like me to bear; the field was a virtual Who’s Who of Northern California volleyball, with the likes of Steve Suard, Phil Melise, Jan Beyzak, Angie DeGroot, etc. I know there are some of you that still know those names well.

I decided that it would be really cool to document the event, so I walked down to a nearby camera store and plunked down $160 for a Pentax K1000 film camera and $150 for a Soligor 80-200 f3.5-4.5 zoom lens, with a couple rolls of film. I was familiar with the camera, having borrowed my father’s cameras plenty of times, but this was my very first real SLR camera (I’m not counting 110 point and shoots).

My rapidly fading memory says that I finished 5th in the “A” division that day, a pretty good finish out of 128+ contenders.  The real triumph was when I got back my photos the following week. I had captured one photo that I liked; as it turns out it was a shot of the Penn State guy I met earlier, shown here. Sadly, he’s hitting around a volley acquaintance of mine, Mike Pickett, a skilled little 5’9”ish setter.

I was instantly hooked; this photo was the gateway to my photography addiction.  Since then I’ve had a progression of cameras: Canon AE-1, Canon A-1, Canon Elan IIe, Canon 20D, Canon 1D Mark II, Canon 1D Mark III, Nikon D3s, Nikon D4, and Canon 1DX. I estimate that I’ve shot somewhere North of a million frames (You'd think I'd be better). I love the little  little thrill when I capture a nice photo; it’s pure photographer crack.  It's what keeps us photographers going and inspires us to spend thousands in order to make hundreds.   With the advent of digital, the gratification is immediate.

That gratification has driven me to attend events of all levels in order to document the volleyball community as well as I know how.  Thanks to all of you for sharing the love of this sport.  Hope to see you out there!


    on February 9, 2021

    Paul, currently shooting a Canon 1DX III backed up by a Mark II. Mostly Canon glass except for two notable exceptions, a Sigma 120-300 f2.8 and a Sigma 12-24 f4. Thanks for checking in!

  • Paul Yoder Photography

    on February 7, 2021

    Great "how I started" story! Very interesting to see all the cameras you used over the years, what camera setup are you using now?


    on May 9, 2019

    Really enjoyed looking at these ... and as for the "You'd think I'd be better"; I think your nailing it.

  • Di Pearson

    on March 15, 2016

    You ROCK Ed - we're all certainly glad you picked up that first camera!!!

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