My family say the paparazzi have arrived whenever I walk into the room for a family function, just because I never carry anything less than a still and a video camera for such events. I believe in recording the moment, so what?
I’ve written before about how it is easier to remember the bad things than it is the good (see Stop…Smell the roses) and, for me, photos and videos are wonderful to look back on and remember happy times. I’m too old to take part in today’s ambulance chasing mentality of let’s capture the bad moments and broadcast it on social media and hope the real media picks it up and pays money for it. Okay, financially that would help me out a lot but social media causes enough social problems and issues because of its instant, unreasoned, unedited and emotional ease of publication. Just saying. Maybe that’s worth a few words at a later date.
Anyway, what I do want to “put out there” is my love of photography. Like most of the loves of my life, it remains unrequited to a certain extent but I’m closer to it than any other. It is a relationship that started when my age could be measured in single digits. This could be part of the reason for my desire to record beautiful, good things and occasions as my first contact with photography was when I was young, innocent and open to the wonders of the world. Thank god I’ve kept some of these ideals as now I’m just older, untrusting and, at times, somewhat jaded by it. To me, photos are hard proof of the better moments, captured for eternity and undeniable in their existence.
It’s hard to remember at what moment I became interested in photography but I have memories of sitting fascinated listening to my parents talking about going to “the pictures” and how special a treat it was for them. How they watched films and read words that popped up on the screen so they knew what the actors were saying. They spoke about how “talkies” had put the piano players out of work but that wasn’t such a bad thing sometimes. I watched Charlie Chapman and old westerns, were a photographer would set up a large tripod, place a slide somehow into a massive camera with a jack-in-the box body “nose” lens, pull what looked like a sheet over his head as Sunday best clothed subjects stood stiffly in front of him. I marvelled that the sheet didn’t catch alight when the powder flash went off. One of my primary school teachers told the class how cameras work, in basic terms, having strayed from a lesson about the human eye. That lesson set me on a mission to find out more and I was doomed to be in trouble with mum for touching her Boxed Brownie for a few months afterwards. How many times did I hear the words” it’s not a toy” after that? I don’t know.
While these words were brewing in my head I’ve done a collection of the cameras I own and am a little sad I can’t find my first one. It was a gift from my eldest sister because I wouldn’t leave hers alone and she was frightened I would break it. It is a little blue instamatic, with built in flash, and I’m pretty sure Kodak made it. I love that camera and, last time I saw it, it still worked. Problem is it is nearly impossible to get the film for it now. My sister’s camera was a bit better quality than the one she gave me for a Christmas present but that made no difference to me. She did let me use hers to capture the moment when Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, visited our town in the mid seventies and the schools all gathered to greet her. It was a strategic move on her behalf as I was a primary school student and would be positioned towards the front of the crowd and therefore have the best chance of a clear view for photos. Her orders to me was to get at least one good photo, I had 24 frames to use and I was not allowed to waste them. She was really happy with this one.
The eighties are when I really got my blue Kodak working. It travelled the Queensland coast with me as well as around the NSW region. I got to see some beautiful sights and only captured a few, it was expensive to get film developed then and it took at least a week to get your hard copies back. Back then, there wasn’t photography shop as such and the developing was done through the local chemist who sent the film away to Kodak for developing. It wasn’t until the mid to late eighties that camera store emerged and chain stores started offering a developing service. There was still a wait of up to a week but at least it stayed in town.
During the nineties I was pretty tired up with having kids, struggling to pay a mortgagee and life in general so photography, if any, was pretty much focussed on the family. I did know my beautiful children would not be little and cute forever and yearned for a video camera as capturing one second, as a still camera does, was not long enough. I wished to capture chunks of their childhood to keep forever. For my youngest first birthday I hired a video camera for three days. I have on tape his early attempts to walk, his brother playing with him and a family outing to a local major recreational water storage dam. Precious moments. I had to return the camera as big and chunky as it was and continue to fantasise about the day I could record memories like that every day.
While picking up some happy snaps from the camera store in the mid nineties the owner told me about digital photography. Wow, was my imagination sparked to say the least. Okay, he knew I was the person who left the fingerprints on his glass display cabinet as I regularly browsed and drooled over the wonderful photographic offerings available. To tease me with this information was his cruel revenge for this I’m sure but it was the point I decided I have to earn more money so I can get me some of that action. As it turned out it didn’t matter how much money I earned I didn’t get to see any of it to spend on just me, so when I found a very cheap digital offering at an electronic shop I grabbed it. It might have cost me $25 but I got it. Okay, little to almost no megapixels and its main sell was “focus free lens 3ft to infinity” but it was digital and I didn’t have to find the money to get photos developed, which was a major problem at that time for me.
Did I give it a workout, yes indeed I did. My son took up playing league and I wanted to catch the moment he got a try or a goal. No zoom so I ran up and down the playing field with the team. I loved it and the team’s coach asked me to get a collection of photos of the season for the kids’ end of season portfolio’s, yay, I had a mission too. Loved it, loved it and loved it even more. When the season finished and after each member of the six-year-old team received a folder with photos of themselves in action, as well as a trophy each, I was more than inspired. I was fitter than I had been for years but even I had to admit it would save my children a lot of embarrassment if I got a camera with a zoom lens.
This took a while but it happened with another cheap offer that didn’t last long. This led to my current camera, purchased with the advice of a photographer friend who understands my financial situation and craving for good quality images. Yes, another Kodak that is really serving me well. My friend has helped me a lot and tries to make me believe all his photography is done on autofocus, yeah right, he just knows my adjustments are limited and is trying to ease my concerns about megapixel size, white balance and the like. I’ve had photos published, thru work, and I’m doing a grand job of filling up my 1T external hard drive with images. Almost ready to move onto the next one.
When I was looking for a new mobile phone my main consideration was the photo quality and I don’t even want to think about how sad that makes me but I hate being without a device to record special moments. The photo used on my Stormy times ahead post was taken on my phone. It was a moment that would never be there again and I am glad I captured it so I could share it. Beautiful moments are better shared after all.
I fear I am getting restless again however and am mentally, if not financially, ready to move to the next level of photography. Next is an SLR, adjustable lens with all the blah, blah and blah and the courses, classes and friend harassment it takes to get the most out of it. I am currently capable of recording man made fireworks and I’m ready to move on to natures. My next goal is to capture a lightning bolt it all its glory.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I also have two video cameras, the first purchased because of my university studies, well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it, and the second is a HD model because, well, just because.
*Please remember my photos are untouched and remain my property.