This started as an addition to my “About Me” page but quickly turned into something else (I guess my “About Me” page will have to wait for yet another day). I never liked writing before, still not sure I do, but writing about the history of my life does have a nostalgic appeal. It helps that I can tell the story because, I am the resident expert on my life and I can write it without much forethought. I would love to hear from any of my followers about the cameras they used in their formative photography years as well as the stories that go along with them. After writing the article below, I really want to dig up some old photos from the different periods of my life and take a look at them; maybe even post a few of them here. Hope you enjoy this journal entry as much as I did writing it and reliving it.
I started photography at a very young age, though I didn’t take any pictures. When I was around 8 or 9, my parents gave me an old camera they no longer used; the kind that had the flash cubes. The one pictured here looks similar, though I cannot be certain this is the exact one. I remember playing with the camera and imaging the great photographs I was creating. I pretended I was a great photographer and each image I produced was better than the last and highly celebrated. In addition to taking photographs of our house, the landscape around it and my room, I also setup my toys and cub scouts trophies on the side of a hill next to our house to take still shots. I only had a limited amount of flash cubes so I used them sparingly and saved them for once I knew I had a masterpiece ready to be created.
It wasn’t until much later that I was able to use a camera with actual film. My sophomore year of high school, 1990, I took my first photography class. My father gave me his Minolta XG-1. It was the camera he bought to take on his honeymoon to Hawaii with my mother back in 1970. It was perfect. I have so many fond memories of this camera. After that first photography class, I went on to take photography every year for the rest of my time in high school. It was the ability to create and the freedom it afforded me that I was drawn to.
With my camera, I was justified in taking photo’s of my friends and anything I wanted. No one questioned me, I was doing class work after all. During any part of our photography class we were allowed to roam around the school taking pictures. My least favorite part of photography class was the darkroom work; it was to rigid and process oriented for me. I quickly made a deal with a couple kids in my class to do some of my darkroom room work, specifically the film development. My mind would wonder and I would lose track of time, thus over or underdeveloped my film, ruining my masterpieces and getting a bad grade. There was a couple in my class that like the darkroom, for obvious high school couple reasons, so I cut a deal with them to develop my film in exchange for taking some photos they could use and call their own. This allowed me more freedom to walk around the school and look through the lens of my camera and imagine the possible masterpieces I was creating.
In addition to the independence it afforded me during photography class, it also afforded me liberty to leave many of my other classes during the day. A simple wave of my camera during English, History or Physics and I was able to leave class under the guise of doing “Yearbook” work. I wasn’t even in the yearbook class, but with a little bit of confidence it worked almost every time. The only classes it never worked in was my Math classes; those teachers were typically immune to my bullshit. Mostly because I was a giant pain in the ass in their classes.
Once I left high school and went to college, I took a couple more photography classes but quickly lost interest. These classes tended to grade more heavily on your darkroom work and less on the composition and creativity of your images. From hear I picked up drawing and painting. I used my photography skills to help me photograph the images I wanted to draw or paint. It allowed me the freedom, again, to roam with my camera in search of just the right composition I could draw and paint later. At this point, I left my trusty old Minolta XG-1 at home most of the time and switched to a Polaroid camera (Side note: it is so cool I can quickly google image search and find the exact cameras I used to have).
The Polaroid camera did a couple things for me the my old SLR didn’t do. First and most obvious, I got instant images. This was really helpful in my drawing and painting classes. Secondly, it captured really great color. I still have many of the photos taken with this camera and the painting I created that still hangs in my living room was painted from a photo with this camera.
Next up on the evolution of camera’s in my life was a couple of different point and shoot, but none really made a lasting impression until the Nikon Pronea APS came along. This camera intrigued me. It had multiple photo format sizes including panoramic. As it turns out, the camera was only cropping and enlarging the photo processing and the film was a much smaller size, but because the lens and the auto-focus were so good it really didn’t matter much.
To this day, I have been a huge fan of panoramic photography; more on this at a later time though. The Nikon Pronea gave me professional looking images and ability to widen the field of view. This along with the 1-hour photo huts so readily available, I was hooked. This camera was my new go to camera, though sometimes I still used my Polaroid for instant capture. The Nikon Pronea lasted me through College and into life after college until digital photography was introduced. I still have catalogs of the APS cartridges, most have been converted to digital discs, but the nostalgia in me can’t seem to let go of the cartridges. For some reason the site of them brings a smile to my face. They came in all the different film speeds as well as black and white. This is the camera that I also began doing large scale photo collages with. I happened upon doing photo collages out of necessity because I wanted to capture a wide angle look, but didn’t have the money for the lens. I still don’t have a wide angle lens and rely on panoramic photos to give me that look when I want it.
One of my painting professors pointed me in the direction of David Hockney. He said my photo collages looked a lot like what Hockney had been doing and I might get some good ideas from him. I did look him up and I loved what I saw. After that, I really started pushing the bounds of photo collage to create larger images that were able to express the grand size of something. I have an old pile of my photo collages that I plan to photograph and put up here in the future, stay tuned for that.
Lastly and bringing me to current day, I shoot with my Sony A55v. You can read about that camera if your interested by clicking the link above or by clicking the “My Camera” link from my home page. In short, I love this camera. Every time I am out birding, I genuinely am grateful to have this camera.
Don’t forget, I would like to hear from you and about the cameras of your life. If you feel inspired to write a blog post about it, please leave a link in the comments below, I really would enjoy reading it. I’m curious if anyone else has the emotional attachment to the cameras in their life the way I do.