After more than a year of lurking is the shadows of APUG and Photo.net I have decided that is time to actively participate in these wonderful and interesting communities. My name: Richard John-Henry Boutwell Age: 22 Occupation: assistant and apprentice to Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee Place of residence: Doylestown, Pennsylvania Brief self description: A willfully displaced Southern Californian desert rat living on the wrong coast--learning how to live as everyone dreams, but rarely does. _____________________________________ After beginning as a musician, I was surprised when I found photographs to be my true form of creative expression. Directly out of high school I was offered a chance to be a working jazz bassist in New Orleans. I thought my dreams were coming true and I spent the majority of my time preparing for the move from where I grew up, in the desert of Southern California. The majority of that summer was spent practicing, sometime during which, I was given a 35 mm camera. After that, my time was spent doing things other than music--mainly hiking and taking pictures. I thought I could put off the move until I learned a little about photography. That was a roughly four years ago, and in those four years I all but quit music. I went from using a 35mm camera and getting color, one-hour prints, to exclusively making black and white contact prints-mostly with an 8x10 inch view camera. A little more than two years ago, while living in the small town of Joshua Tree, California I got yet another, equally great opportunity to move across the county. This time to work as the assistant and apprentice to two master photographers, Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee. There was no question that this was the right thing for me to do. Within two weeks I quit my job and drove what would be the first of six cross-country trips that year. Working for them has found me in the darkroom and in the kitchen, all the way to Baja California and most recently, Iceland. Not only have I learned camera and darkroom skills, but I am learning what it really means to be an artist--and what it means to be truly alive.