Hi! My name is Jeffrey Batt (hence the bat logo.) And yes, I have heard all the Batman jokes. I was born and raised in the suburbs around Wilmington, and I love my home state of Delaware. This is a state that has something for everyone; visit here and you will understand why we call it the ‘Small Wonder!”
My degree was a Bachelor of Arts in print graphic design from Cabrini College, class of 2007. I graduated Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA. I had a small 3.2 megapixel Olympus back then, and used it to document my college social life. But it was nothing serious, I was just having fun and making memories. By senior year I had established a reputation as “that guy who’s always taking pictures of everything” I didn’t actually become interested in serious photography until later. The explosion of smart phones and interactive media and the economic recession of 2008, coupled with some personal health struggles, effectively ended my career as a print designer before it started. For a while I drifted from one temporary job to another, feeling somewhat lost without a purpose.
My true path began when one of my uncles sold me an old film camera with a bag of lenses that had been in his closet for 30 years; it was a 1978 Nikon FM single lens reflex, which was incidentally one of the best, most durable cameras ever made. (Steel, titanium and glass…they just don’t make things like that anymore) Then my father gave me his 1973 Canon SLR and another bag of lenses. Starting from nothing, I began to read all the photography books I could find, went to local parks and outdoor events, and started to capture everything I saw. I took a darkroom photography course at DCAD to unlock the mysteries of apertures and shutter speeds, and spending many hours in the dark with my hands in vats of poisonous chemicals gave me a renewed appreciation for digital. In 2010 I bought my first DSLR (an EOS Rebel T2). From there, my skill and artistic vision improved in leaps and bounds. The DSLR has since been upgraded to an 18 megapixel T5i. I spent six years collecting studio gear, a piece at a time. And now, I’m finally in business.
You could say photography is in my blood. My grandfather taught himself the art as a young adult, and he built himself a dark room in his basement. When he was drafted by the US Army in 1941, he bought a small Argus camera and took it to war with him. He captured over 300 images of what life in the Army was like, and later scenes of a ruined Europe as the Germans surrendered. He used color Kodak film, which was quite rare and expensive at the time. At some point, he bought himself a Graflex ‘Speedgraphic’ press camera, and began making medium format prints in black and white. I waited 32 years to inherit that camera. It’s in almost mint condition, and still has the case and all the accessories. I’m holding it in my picture at the bottom of the page.
My father worked for Kodak when he was in college, at their world headquarters in Rochester, New York. He is a research chemist, and his specialty at the time was in film emulsion chemistry. Because he worked in a photo lab every day, he had unlimited free film processing. So he spent most of the 1970s photographing birds, animals and flowers and making his own prints. Some of his work from then is quite good, and it inspired me very much.
In early 2012 I took up World War II reenacting as a hobby, and thought of a way to include my passion for capturing moments. Now I reenact as a War Correspondent in the US Army Signal Corps (The 1940’s Army, of course). I use both of my Grandfather’s old cameras, to teach the public just how complicated, difficult –and dangerous–it was to use film in combat situations and develop it in the field with limited means.
And now in 2017, I am ready to start my own business as a freelance photographer, finally doing what I was meant to do. You could say I’m a third generation shutterbug. I think my Grandpa would be proud.