Who’s this familiar-looking face? Well, in many ways he is the man most directly responsible for me becoming a photographer.

This is Richard W. Fountain, my dad, known to the ham radio world as W2AVC. Sadly he passed away in December of 2011, but not before giving me a passion for photography. Let me tell you how it all began…

KodakPocketInstamatic20Camera2-viWhen I was about six years old, my dad showed me a Kodak Pocket Instamatic (remember those?) with a bag of disposable flash cubes, and instantly I wanted to play with it. As far as I was concerned the flash spots before my eyes were stars. I went along with him on every trip he made to the local photo lab. I smelled the developing chemicals, gazed at the cameras on display (even the old junker SLR that had been made into a planter), and marveled at all of it.

Then in 1985, he let me take the Instamatic on a high-school field trip to Washington D.C. I used up my film in the Smithsonian. Boy, was I new at this! Thank goodness I don’t still have any of those old embarrassing prints. Half the time, the lens cap was still on and the other half I was so excited, I put camera shake into almost every image. Ouch! But I learned from it, because my dad went over every shot with me, patiently explaining to me what I’d done wrong and how to correct it.

vintage nikon slrOne day we visited an airplane museum in Connecticut. And he let me use his Nikon SLR and an old light meter. I couldn’t believe it! I knew how to use them because I’d been studying at his side for years, though he’d never let me operate them before. I held them almost like holy symbols. But then I started taking ambient light readings, setting my exposure (manual mode only, of course), and composing my shots.

And when the photos came back from the lab, my dad said something transforming: something that made my spirit soar.

“You have the eye, Bob,” he said.

And now, here I am: a grateful professional who owes so much of who I am to one man. I miss you, Dad. But I’ll never forget your words. And I’ll see you again, someday. Vaya con Dios.

Visit my web site today and see the fruits of his labor.

Written by The Twilit Lens

Freelance photographer and ponderer of the unusual. I welcome the presence of mystery and the unknown. Wonder is not absent from the universe, and there is still room for the child in those who haven't yet allowed their hearts to wither to dust.


  1. I remember something you told me about him in Sophomore year. He said “It doesn’t take all kinds, but we got ’em anyway.”
    I wish I’d been able to meet him. It’s also amazing just how much you two sounded alike.

    1. He had quite a few wise sayings. I also remember how, whenever he and I would go on a photo expedition together, the childlike wonder truly came alive in him. It was a side of him I enjoyed seeing.

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