Early Work: 1974-1976

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I began photographing in my late teens, when I was in college. My first camera was a Nikon Photomic FTn SLR with a 55mm Micro-Nikkor lens. About a year later I purchased a used Leica M4 with a 50mm dual-range Summicron lens. I was intrigued both by the Leica rangefinder and the work of the photographers known for using it. The first photographic book I purchased was The World Of Henri Cartier-Bresson – a book that I still own and treasure. A straightforward, documentary approach to photography became an enduring model for me.

Shortly before graduating college, I made an extensive overland trip to Central and South America. With two college buddies in tow, we headed to Mexico in my 1972 Datsun station wagon. I made it as far as Bolivia, before turning back to retrace my path homeward. During this trip, I had my camera continuously at my side in a canvas shoulder bag. Two years later, in 1976, I embarked on a similar trip to the Mediterranean, traveling from Turkey to North Africa. During these travels, whenever the opportunity presented itself, I photographed, sometimes to document my travels, but mostly for the purpose of creating images that I hoped would be special and memorable—something more than travel snapshots. I learned many things during these travels, but learning photography became the most enduring accomplishment.

— Richard Sexton