A Little About Grae

Hello everyone! I thought it might be good to start putting out a blog.  It is my hope to put out useful articles occasionally that will provide tips, tricks, and techniques that you can use to take better pictures on your own.

Today I wanted to start by introducing myself a little bit better than my About page

My name is Graeme Gerster. I find that my name is a little difficult to say so I go by Grae, like the color. My wife Rachel and I have been together for about 15 years with the last 10 of them being married. I have a daughter named Scarlett who is 8 years old and loves horses. We live in Reedley, where I work hard to be a part of my community in many ways.

In my day job, I work as a paramedic. I started off as an EMT and firefighter in the city of Orange Cove working as a volunteer. I worked at the local grocery store as a box boy while I did this. I then transitioned to working at American Ambulance as an EMT. After a few years of this, I went back to school and got my Paramedic License. I have now been working as a Paramedic in Fresno and Kings counties for the last 10 years, totaling about 14 years at American Ambulance. Working as a paramedic I personally find it extremely rewarding to work consistently in a particular community and to get to know the residents of that community as well as how it works. I started my time as a medic working in the city of Corcoran. I was there for about 4 years and got to know the community well. After that, I transitioned to the city of Avenal, where I am now, and once again worked hard to become a part of this community. It brings me great pleasure to serve these communities and to get to know them.

In addition to this, I have been working on the side as a photographer. Like many others out there, I have always had a love of photography. As a kid, I played with my moms camera a lot. I eventually got my own camera that used 110 film. I used to take pictures and then when the roll was done if I could I would beg my mom to take me to the store to develop it. Honestly, more often than not, I knew we couldn’t do that. So instead what I would do is rewind the roll and stick it back in my camera. So somewhere there are about 7 rolls of film with so many overlapped pictures on them that it could probably be sold as abstract art!

When I got to high school there was a photography class offered. I thought this was going to be my chance to really learn the craft. During a summer visit with my dad, we tracked down an excellent camera from a pawn shop. I got my film ready and I was ready to learn. Unfortunately, my teacher was very far past being ready to teach. I didn’t get to learn all the ins and outs of the different settings and how to compose and take a good picture. On the upside, I did learn how to develop film and images in a dark room. The smell of the developer and chemicals is something I’ll never forget! The downside of this experience is that I, unfortunately, dropped from photography for quite a few years after this.

Years later, when digital was already king, I decided that I wanted to buy a new camera and get back into taking pictures when my fiance and I took vacations. I wouldn’t say photography at this point though. I went to Best Buy and bought myself a Sony A100. This is where I fell into a quite common trap that hits alot of people. I thought that because I had a big DSLR camera it meant that I was automatically taking great pictures. I owned this camera for 10 years and took many great pictures with it. I also took way more bad pictures. I will say that I did grow to a point where I excelled at composition, but I never took the time to learn what the different dials and settings meant or how to use them.

Jump to the end of this 10 year period and I’m now married and have a kid. I was on a trip with them and was trying to take pictures of my daughter on a carousel and just couldn’t get the shot that I wanted. It was at this exact moment that my desire to be a photographer and not just a picture guy flared. I decided then and there that I was going to learn how to use my camera. I then went to the internets and began reading and watching videos. I figured out how to adjust my settings and what it would do. Shortly after this, I realized that I had outgrown my camera and it was time for a new one. I sold my beloved motorcycle and used the money to buy myself a Nikon D7100. I was now a photographer.

With my new camera and the new skills that I had learned and was improving on, I continued to work towards becoming a noted photographer. I grew to a point to where I was taking decent pictures and was starting to know what I was doing.

As many of you who are reading this may know, I am known best locally for my fire-related photography. This began on July 4th of 2015. I was driving home from Fresno with my wife and daughter when we drove by Reedley Fire Department working on a vegetation fire off the side of Manning. I made the comment that it would be cool to take pictures of them and the fire, but I didn’t have my camera with me. In a statement that she may now regret, my wife said, ” Well you should drop us off at home, grab your camera and come back.” I thought that was a great idea and that’s exactly what I did. I went back to the fire and got permission to photograph the fire. I got some pretty good images there and the bug bit me. A few days later I went to the fire department to speak with the Chief about continuing to photograph them when on the scene of fires and accidents. Based on my images and experience with OCFPD they gave me the go ahead. As I continued to shoot for them in a variety of settings and scenarios, it pushed me to better learn my craft and to advance rapidly. Today I have gotten to a point where my images and myself are recognized in the Fire/EMS industry and I have won multiple awards at our fair and other venues.

I also have spread myself into the world of portraits and weddings. I still have a lot of growth ahead of me, but I look forward to working with many of you to create great photos of you and to become the best that I can be.

So, that’s who I am and how I got to where I am today. In the end, I absolutely love taking pictures. Its something that makes me feel good and I enjoy saving memories and moments for myself and others. I am very glad that I have been able to share about myself and look forward to meeting and learning about you.

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