This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko.
It depends on what point to start count from. I was fascinated with photography on some subconscious level. Back in school I had an old rangefinder camera. Completely mechanical with manual exposure – no electronics at all. I developed film by myself, I made prints by myself. I still remember the scent of chemicals.
I remember my experiment with enlarging a photograph to a really big size. I put my enlarge on a side and projected the image from one end of 7 meter hall to the wall on the other end. On the wall I put letter size sheets of photo paper. The hardest thing was to develop those sheets exactly the same time to keep the same tonality. And I did not succeed on that. Different sheets ended up being darker or lighter. Despite that I enjoyed experimenting.
Later, in high school, my parents bought me more advanced camera – film SLR. It had electronic exposure metering! That was when I learnt my first lesson: not to trust tools. Since I started relying on exposure metering I did not get a single shot with a good exposure.
Still I would not say I did fine art photography in the school. After I entered a university I abandoned photography completely. There was no way I could setup a dark room in a dorm.
After post-graduation school I moved across an ocean to the US. I did not immediately started doing photography again. I traveled a lot, bought a simple digital camera and was taking some random snapshots which I have not even bothered to look at since then.
After a few years living in the US I noticed that I spent too much time working. I needed something that would take me away from work. I tried several hobbies and could not stop on anything.
At the same time my wife got into photography. She was the first we got a DSLR for. I thought about trying myself in landscape photography. I bought a tripod, started reading books and explore landscapes around. And I really like it. Photography has become part of my life that I cannot live without.