Well, it was definitely different with art. Naturally, since the age of 5, I gravitated to anything artistic and I remember spending days trying to draw and cut a perfect circle freehand - something I am still not able to do and if you, dear reader, can, well kudos to you and let me know your secret, please.
I was fortunate that art and music were mandatory courses in elementary school (ages 5-11) and were elective-based after that. So, when I turned 12 and entered middle school, the first courses I chose were art and chorus. And, in fact, it was at 12 that I took my first photography course. Mr. D was my teacher and the first day he handed me a manual light meter and a Yashica TLR. I was intimidated. He explained the workings of the camera a few times but I saw this heavy beast as something to fear. I admit I struggled with the whole technical concept of it, thus the imagery I created was sparse and lacked creativity, imagination, composition....name it. It also wasn't easy because we had to share cameras so my time with it was limited. So, here is the one successful print I created. I intentionally didn't re-touch the scan to show you how BAD it was. I suppose there were 2 saving graces - the wheel (this was at my house) was somewhat interesting and the glassine envelope I used to expose the negative through to create the texture were it. Maybe if I learned sepia toning back then, it would have helped.
The following year, I took a course called Graphic Arts. It was a year of learning all about page layout, book-making/binding, printmaking (in the BASIC of forms) and there was a little photography thrown in. It was the first time I shot with a 35mm and I felt more comfortable with that. I got a better handle on the technical aspects of shooting but, again, I had limited time with the camera and didn't produce one artistic thing with it.
Sadly, after those courses, things took a drastic turn. Wanting to please my mother first, being told the special Photography program was not offered at my school and wanting to escape high school for at least part of the days, I went to a vocational school part-time during my last 2 years of high school for cosmetology. Yes, I went to study hairdressing knowing I wanted nothing to do with it. After graduation and failing the physical aspect of the licensing exam, I finally went to work in a wedding photography studio as a printer/album manufacturer/salesperson/photography assistant. I was 18 years old.
Next entry, I will talk about that time and what happened next that led to serious photography.