13th April 2012
I have always aspired to record things, big things, little things, everything! As a child growing up in a rural section of New York State, I discovered early on how vitally important events, happenings and daily experiences were to me. I wanted to absorb every detail of life as I knew it and find a way to preserve it. I spent days, months and years looking through the old photo albums with my grandparents, enchanted by the stories, tales and explanations that went along with each snapshot. People in the photos came alive for me. I grew to know and love each one of them though many had gone to meet their maker long before I was born.
For my 10th birthday, I received from my Uncle Tom a little boxy Kodak camera. My mother and aunt thought I was much too young for such a fine gift but my uncle winked and showed me how to use and care for it. He had a wonderful blue eyed wink, the kind of wink that was “full of the devil”. Most often that wink appeared after he had taken a taste from the bottle he kept stashed in the trunk [boot] of his car…… In any event, that was the beginning of my love affair with the captured image. I reverently loaded my little camera and chose my shots carefully. Film and it’s developing were terribly expensive for a kid like me, not a dime to my name; the eldest of four children in a household were Dad worked hard and money was scarce. Special occasions only, the rule I followed reluctantly. Fast forward to my 16th birthday and my first Polaroid camera, à la Uncle Tom again; photos magically developed in 60 seconds right in front of my eyes! Technology unimagined previously was such a magical reality in 1966. Images so far from perfect yet so much fun.
As a young mother I discovered 35mm photography, SLR cameras and fancy lenses that could capture images in motion, in darkness or bright light with seemingly little effort on my part. My darling daughters were my favorite and most brilliant subjects. I photographed them in every position, event and environment. Their moods, motions and emotions; their every breath was fair game for me and the camera in my hand. In the summer of 2000, I purchased my first digital camera and my life changed forever! I was free to take thousands of images without fear of taking a bad shot. I could shoot till my heart was content with the image. No more waiting for photos to be developed, no more paying for bad shots. I had the ability to edit and enhance my photos to suit myself with the click of a mouse. I excelled, I dreamed, I soared!
It is now 2012 and I have recently purchased my fifth digital camera. Seems like a lot of cameras in 10 years for one person yet the truth is I have never broken one, I have simply worn them out from constant use. Yup, you heard it right, I have used them till they “gasped” and snapped their last shot. They died owing me nothing, having far surpassed their monetary value in the pleasure they provided me. They were my dear friends, tools of my imagination. My new Sony Cybershot is a far cry from that little boxy Kodak yet I loved them all equally. My passion for recording those little things, big things, ALL things is stronger than ever. My desire to share my photos with my offspring and their babies grows more urgent as I grow older. I am now the grandmother, sharing the enchanted stories of dead relatives and days gone by, hoping and praying with all my heart and soul these darling grandchildren of mine will carry on our family photographic tradition for generations to come. Now say cheese! Click... click...click.
Written by Ellen Neumann
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