Vintage: My first successful photograph. 1988

My girlfriend Julies cat. Thrown by Dane, my buddy.

I spent a few hours trying to make sense of my storage unit yesterday. I found two boxes of photographs from high school. I threw them deep into a corner and kept working. Subconsiously my mind fired up and started remembering the images that were in those boxes. Like letters from myself from the past.

I put the boxes in my Trooper and now they’ll get a new life on the world wide web. They’ll be designated with the “Vintage” label. That’s how you’ll know.

Now, on to todays image….

It was soggy September afternoon, a hard rain had finally ended. The wind was pushing the wet leaves around and the sky was moody. We were at Julie’s house, Dane and I, She was my kind of girlfriend. Her and I rarely spoke and when we did it was painfully awkward. It was agreed amongst our friends that we liked eachother. Relationships are weird when you’re 15.

Julie had this ratty old cat lying on her front porch. Someone suggested that we photograph the cat flying so Dane threw it a few times and I got this great shot of a cat in mid-air.

I turned it in to Mr. Tromburg and he held it high above his head in front of the class and said “this is what I am talking about people!”

I smiled in my chair and he asked me to put my name on it. He put it in the display case in the hallway all alone. It was one my favorite moments of High School. At lunchtime I’d stand across the hallway from it and watch the students peer at it.

It wasn’t my first photograph. Just the first one anyone outside my family would see.

High School.


Technical information, philosophical data and photo tips

I’d just acquired my first SLR camera, a Vivitar v335. It was loaded with a roll of Plus-x film. My dad was kind enough to front the $120 for it at Idaho Camera. The day before I took this photograph I met him after school at the newly opened Boise Towne Square mall. I rode my bike. He bought the camera for me and I opened the boxes right outside the front doors of the mall. I strapped it around my chest and rode the 4 miles home. I was taking “dry” photographs all the way home. I didn’t have any film yet.

I was a rank amateur at age 15. I could hardly handle my simple camera. I only knew that when I pressed my eye to the viewfinder something rose up in me. It was like an answer to a question that I didn’t knew that I was asking. I knew that my future would be tied to photography. I had no doubt.

I spent hours in my bedroom looking through the viewfinder at everything in the room, the bed, my chair, the lamp, everything. I practiced focusing and zooming the lens. I’d pull the lens off the camera body and watch the shutter fire. As quick as I could I got an enlarger at a garage sale and took over the downstairs kitchen.

The next few years I spent every day photographing everything. I still am. Photography is how I interperet the world around me and attempt to capture how I feel about what I see.

-Jon Ball is a fine art/portrait photographer living in Boise, Idaho. His portrait website is


  1. Julie…..Schmooley. I can’t remember. It was probably Johnson or Smith but I can’t remember. She lived behind WINCO though. Does that help?

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