I've been taking pictures since my dad bought me a Kodak Instamatic 400 camera back in the early 1960's.  I remember it took 126 film.  What was cool is that it had a built-in spring driven motor drive which would automatically advance the film to the next frame.  Sort of a poor man's motor drive that made me the envy of all my friends.  I mainly used this camera on vacations and for recording family events and, like much of the stuff I accumulated as a kid, it eventually ended up in some drawer or closet never to be seen again.  

Fast forward to 1969 or so.  I just graduated from high school and had started to develop an interest in photography.  I decided I needed a quality 35mm camera for my college studies (Forestry) and ended buying a brand new Canon FTb in the spring of 1971.  At the same time, my father (who also dabbled in photography) encouraged me to develop my own film so I set up a darkroom in the basement bathroom.  I spent many hours there learning the basics of processing B&W film and making B&W prints.

Graduating from college as a Forester, I moved out of the city and ended up living in Michigan's rural and wild Upper Peninsula.  The U.P., as Michiganders call it, is very scenic, being bordered by Lake Superior on the north and Wisconsin on the south.  I would spend countless hours on the weekends exploring the Lake Superior shoreline and the rocky hills so common to the western U.P. and northern Wisconsin.  Of course I had my camera with me at all times, and, with so much nature surrounding me, I specialized in landscape photography. 

My career took me to the Michigan's northern lower peninsula in the mid-1980's.  It was at this time my photographic interests began to change.  While I enjoyed photographing nature, I felt that all I was doing was rearranging the same scenes over and over with the same results.  Yeah, they looked pretty, and my friends liked them, but I was growing bored.  I also noticed that when I looked at other people's photography, I spent most of my time looking at pictures of people, not their nature photos.  I decided that people photography would be the next photographic avenue I would explore.  

The change from photographing nature to photographing people was hard.  It's easy to take a picture of Lake Superior or a colorful tree in autumn, they don't talk back to you, but when photographing people, whoa!  They talk back!  And as I discovered, you have to establish a relationship with your subject before you can take their picture.  And being that I'm basically a shy person, this was hard!  But as terrifying this was for me at first, it was also invigorating.  I was forced to operate outside of my comfort zone, which was good, and, for the first time, I didn't know what to do or how to do it.  But it was challenging, fun and, most importantly, I was taking photos that I actually liked!  Even proud of.  No doubt I had come a long way from the early 60's and my Kodak Instamatic 400.

What you see on my website are pictures I've taken over the past several years.  Most are of people, but I've included some scenics too.  The vast majority are on film, which is still my preferred medium.  Most of the 35mm pictures were taken with a Leica MP and a Canon F-1, and the medium format shots are mostly taken with a Rolleiflex 6006 and a Mamiya C220.  I recently purchased an old Buch Pressman 4X5 view camera which I'm using more and more for portraits.  For digital, I use a Leica M-240, a Olympus OM-D, a Canon EOS-M, and a beat-up old Canon G2 which I've modified to be an IR-only camera.

Thanks for looking at my website, I hope you like what you see.  And please feel free to leave comments.  I'm always curious as to what people think.

And, by the way, the picture of me wearing the green stocking cap was taken more than 40 years ago on a bitter, cold day.  Still have the beard, but now it's all gray.

Jim Bielecki