Marty! Open Me First!
That was the tag on a brightly wrapped present under the tree. It was 1957, and I had just turned eight. If you were alive in those days, I bet you had a tag like that on a present you excitedly opened first.
It was a brand-new Kodak Brownie with built in flash!! My own camera! I was thrilled. There were three rolls of film with it, and I took all 36 pictures in the next few days.
I married a true photographer with telephotos, and lens caps, a blush type brush to dust off the lens, and a special foam, cut with holes where every attachment would fit and be guaranteed not to bump into any other valuable piece of equipment. The prize possession was a heavy camera case that looked like a silver lock box bank security people have chained to their arms. I longed for the days when I just lugged a heavy back pack over my shoulders.
Hasselblad cameras are very good, very heavy and large. You don't tuck this into your pants pocket, or stash it in your purse.I became the best boy, or the boom, or whatever they call the lackey who gets to haul all the heavy camera bodies loaded with various types of film for any sun condition. A true photographer must have his hands free from such encumbrances, so he can leap onto walls, or rocks behind trees to get the perfect light and position.
My little Brownie was tucked away with all the unworthy, unsophisticated gear. Dee was a man with a tripod, and I had learned early in our life together that my role was to tote the gear, brush off the lenses, blow (ever so softly, so no spit is accidentally expelled) and be aware of casting shadows. I'd learned about this etiquette faux paux by golfing with my dad. Men in hobby mode can become very obsessed and ornery about where your shadow happens to cross over their space.
I learned to set up the tripod and place it on walls, roofs, cars, benches, in preparation for the ultimate goal of a real photographer--the night shot.
The Rucksack and suitcase were traded in when I became responsible for dressing, coiffing, feeding, and keeping the new modeling crew we suddenly had in tow. They were darling, always available, and free. Not always co-operative, but those moments led to great candids that look funny in retrospect.
Last year I re-picked up the hobby I had experimented with on my eight year old Christmas. I have a digital camera now, with all the bells and whistles and I am good enough to produce some fairly decent pictures.
Mine is a CoolPix and it's red. It fits in my purse or pocket and after pouring over the manual for a week or so, I'm taking great pictures!!
Dee's still stuck back in time, with his numerous, heavy Hasselblad lenses and lost lens caps while I've moved along with technology. Dee has created a dark room in every house we've lived in--even the previously mentioned 8' x 35' trailer bathroom was often covered with black out fabric as he concocted formulas for developing his works.
It's amazing how quickly I can download my work to the computer, tweak them a little, organize and store them in their categories. I can order a hard copy, edited, sized, and emailed in a folder to share on Shutterfly, while he's still searching for the camera body that's holding the fast speed film. He's a real photographer that talks about apertures and white balance while I spin my little dial and choose "Party Mode" and "Inside the museum."
He now carries the tripod so I can keep my hands free for random, spontaneous shots. It is very fun. In a pinch, he uses the photo I produce rather than go to the trouble of taking his own, and not knowing for days whether it even turned out. (You know, that old unpredictable sun and shadow thing. Too bad he can't scroll down to "Sun"....oh, and I've got one called "Shadow.") It's almost like a real camera, but the answers are too easy for a real photographer.
To think it all started one fun Christmas morning because I opened my camera first. The lesson here is always have your camera out, at the ready for the unexpected expressions you can capture with the magic of Christmas Day.
My camera still calls to me "Open Me First!"