Starting Where I Was

Taking a step back from my last post, I feel compelled to go back a bit farther and share where my love for photography began. When I was 5 or 6 my Opa (my German maternal Grandfather) gifted a Kodak 126 camera to me. Now, my Opa knew a few things about cameras; he was a world traveler as well as a multi-linguist and his hobby was to capture the places he visited and the people who lived there, on film. He had a beautiful Voightlander 35mm and a Super 8 film camera which were constantly in use. He amassed a library of pictures, slides and films that would takes days to go through and binge watch. (He was also maybe a spy! But I digress…)

Opa taught me a few things about using my camera, such as to have a branch or twig in the foreground of pictures I take outside to give them depth, hold my camera very still when I press the button so the pictures don’t come out blurry, and to try to find something interesting or beautiful to photograph. Film isn’t cheap, ditto developing it, and flash cubes are a pain to find in many countries he told me. I took it all to heart and carried my camera on family trips and even to school now and then. I ignored…no, “forgot”, most of the rules most of the time because I’d be SO excited how happy people were to have their picture taken, and how a crowd of friends and classmates would magically gather when I took out my camera!

The bills for the photo lab weren’t nearly as unsettling as waiting a week or more for Fotomat to call to find that many of the pictures were shaky or dark or otherwise useless. The memories of those missed moments would have to live in my mind rather than an album. But I kept trying and every now and again a photograph would come out just as I had hoped (or close enough for a kid with a plastic camera) and the friends and classmates would magically gather again to see themselves and point and laugh and ask if they could have it! I loved that! I began to realize that the joy a camera brings is not limited to just one side of the viewfinder.

In the picture above (or beside or below, I have no idea how WordPress is going to place it) I share a few images of my early work. Mark and Paul, Miss Goggin and Mrs D’Amico (ok, I surprised her) are all smiles and that made, and makes, my heart happy as much now as it did then. And to me that is something that I love about photography: the smile, the joy, the moment – is captured and preserved. Those fractions of a second, and the emotion they carry, become timeless.

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