1977. graduation. yashica fx-2. my most-prized possession and my constant companion was the 35mm single lens reflex camera my momma and dad gave me when i graduated from high school. it went everywhere with me and i made every reason to be out and about with it, capturing sunrises, sunsets, beaches, state parks, roadtrips, lighthouses, birds and other wildlife, my nieces and nephew. i loved this camera and still have it, although i haven’t used it in years. i learned about f-stops and aperture openings, film speed and depth of field – all with this camera.
somewhere along the way, automatic cameras began to reign supreme and i joined the ranks with a minolta that made taking pictures of My Girl and My Boy easier, faster, somewhat brainless. as they were little and moments passed in lightning speed, this camera made moment-seizing more possible, although one still had to wait till the film was developed to see if you were successful. sometimes it was the blurry photo, the funny face, the i-wasn’t-trying-to-get-that-picture photograph that are the prizes. they are the ones we couldn’t erase, delete, photoshop, filter. they were what they were.
i remember roll after roll, walking in to rode’s camera shop and taking advantage of their double-print deal, always sending photographs to grandparents, family and friends who were afar. having sorted through every one of the prints in recent years, i can honestly say that i have literally thousands of photographs of my children when they were growing up. perhaps this is the reason they roll their eyes at me now when i want to take pictures of them?
i can’t help but think of what i might have captured on film had digital cameras or cellphones with the exquisite-cameras-of-today been around back then. video without having a gigantic vcr camcorder on your shoulder or even a smaller, still cumbersome 8mm camera, instant photos that you can preview and take over, every photo or image or video ‘fixable’, ‘changeable’, ‘alterable’.
i have to say i am a little envious of the ability of parents today who are able to document their children, their travels, their, well, every move, not to even begin to mention selfies, and instantly facebook-post it, email it, text it, snapchat it, instagram it, tweet it, snapfish or shutterfly-book-it, sharing it with the world. it’s so simple. their documentation will be so much more complete, the phone-camera a constant companion with no real added burden of weight or case or extra lenses or film or a flash. the rise and ease of amazing technology.
it was with a sense of uh-oh-we-really-are-getting-olderrrrr that we happened upon the display of cameras and movie cameras in the antique shoppe. i wanted to pick each one up, look through the viewfinder, compose a photo or two. i was instantly transported back to crabmeadow beach with susan, climbing the fence to snag a few sunrise pictures. i was in the boat with crunch, cruising long island sound lighthouse to lighthouse. i was on the floor with my babies, catching their moments.
there was something magical about waiting for that old film to develop. something that made it sometimes easier to put the camera, the device, away. something that made it paramount to memorize -for your very own mind’s eye- the most precious of events, the most intimate details, the agonizingly briefest purity of a perfect moment in time.