This Old Camera

It was my mother’s camera. An Olympus 35 mm. It was a brand new model when she got it back in the 70s. She was the picture taker. She captured moments of her youth and mine. Friends, family, hippies playing guitar, Mom and Dad with long hair, summer fun, pregnant bellies and babies playing in the backyard. And the photos from when a friend said, “Here, let me take a picture of you.” The good old days.  I always loved looking at those old, white framed photographs. Each has a story to tell.

Then, I took it for myself. It became mine when she left this place. I was seventeen. It was time to capture the moments of my life. I vowed to create many great photo opportunities of my own. This camera helped show me where I came from. She was once a young woman too. A woman in love with life and who really knew how to enjoy it. I learned that from her and I would take this camera on many adventures in my young adulthood. The camera was with me as I fell in love, learned to live, and discovered what could look beautiful through my lens. I could capture just a glimpse of each moment to last forever on a piece of photo paper. So it began. I took pictures of friends, family, hippies playing guitar, my husband and I with long hair – hiking, fishing, camping, dancing, and summer fun.  Let the good times roll…and they did. Eventually, pictures of pregnant bellies and babies playing in the backyard, but digital cameras and phones came into play by then.

I started out taking a black and white photography class where I learned to use the camera to its full potential and discovered my artistic view of the world in the dark room. I’ve since grown accustomed to using other means for photography, like my phone and iPad. In recent years, I finally bought myself a new Canon digital camera with fun lenses to play around with because I was missing the art and mechanics of photography. Though, the pictures still aren’t the same. The real film photos are completely truthful and reflective of each moment they are captured. They are not an image that was taken twenty times until everyone’s smile, chin and pose looked good.  You couldn’t review what you just experienced (photographed) and decide if you want to keep it or send it to the trash can icon and try again. With the film cameras, you get what you get. You have to be purposeful and set yourself up just right if you want a successful result in the end. And, you have to wait to get the result of your efforts. It even takes additional work to see the end result! We’ve all adapted to the conveniences of modern technology and photography and most of it is great. But, I don’t want to forget that there are great things about the old ways of doing things as well.

So now the Olympus 35 mm sits on my office shelf as a reminder of those basics. Where I started and where I sometimes need to go back to from time to time.  A reminder that in life you need to keep your eyes open and capture moments as they are and as they come.  And sometimes to be patient and wait. Maybe my daughter will be interested in learning about this old camera one day…when it is 50 years old. And I’ll pull out the dusty photo album and show her pictures of when mommy and daddy first met like my mom did with me….inspiration for how things were in the past and what lies ahead for her in the future.


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