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I was born and raised in the Philippines, where I spent the first fifteen years of my life in blissful ignorance of anything beyond my five senses and my immediate needs. I was an athlete and as long as I could hit and catch and run and jump, I cared not a whit about anything else. Little did I know that within a matter of weeks, the new year would bring with it a visit to the doctor followed by a biopsy and a conclusive diagnosis of an ugly disease known as osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). 

 

It was bewildering news to say the least, made worse by overhearing a discussion between my father and the orthopedic surgeon about how high above the knee the good doctor was planning to amputate. Six days later, I lost my right leg. I was fifteen years, eight months and eleven days old. 

 

I immigrated to the United States five months later--physically healed, emotionally dulled and learning to walk with a prosthetic leg. It was then that I got my first camera—a gift from one of my relatives. It was a Pentax K1000, a manual focus 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) film camera paired with a 50mm lens. I must admit that I had never been into photography before that—my blissfully ignorant world before then had consisted of sports and girls and movies and television shows about sports and girls. But the new camera was an eye-opener in more ways than one--it allowed me to continue to participate in a world that was no longer available to me and to express my vision and my evolving gestalt.

 

Soon I dove headlong into all things photography—reading as much literature as was available, taking as many photos as I possibly could and eventually learning to develop and print black & white film. With first paycheck from my first real job, I finally purchased my own camera--a Nikon FE2 film SLR. I’ve been a Nikonista ever since.

 

Over the years, I continued to explore my expanding understanding of the world around me through the camera's viewfinder, filtering everything that I captured through my continuously-evolving photographic vision. By choice, I remained an amateur. I never pursued photography as a profession for the simple reason I never considered it as a profession. I have always thought of it as a hobby--no more, no less. 

For my career, I chose a path more often traveled. I obtained an undergraduate degree in Business Information Systems, acquired an MBA and completed various professional certifications. Through years of hard work, patience and a little bit of luck, I was able to carve out my own little niche. Today, I serve as a data governance and data quality executive for one of the largest faith-based, non-profit health systems in the country. I have authored a book on the subject, spoken at conferences and teach a course on data governance at UCLA Extension. That is my vocation and I am passionate about my career as a data practitioner.

But photography will always remain a part of who I am. It helped me to cope during a difficult time in my life many years ago and today, it continues to provide me with a gratifying form of self-expression. And when all is said and done, isn't that what a hobby is all about? I remain un photographe amateur.  

I write. I travel. I take pictures. Enjoy the images and experience the adventure.

Peace.

 

Keith Leonin

kleonin@gmail.com