A life in photos


The camera that started it all:

What is the significance of those photographs you take?

One of my classmates in the photography class that I am taking bought this camera many years ago. He recalled how he longed for it, read the brochure about it countless times, saved up for it, and finally purchased it. When it arrived, he even recalled how it smelled when he opened the box.

He learned well with that camera. He intuitively “makes” beautiful photos, mostly of places to which he has traveled, effortlessly capturing the “spirit of place” wherever he has been. Yet when asked if he had photos of where he grew up, a unique and interesting place on its own, he said he has few. It is to him just a place where he lived back then, nothing special. Recently, he returned, and last night in class we saw some of the photos he took while visiting there. He has a gift for capturing the aura of a place, the emotion attached to it, even though the photograph relies only on the sense of sight. It becomes, in his hands, a window to that particular place and time.

As photographers, many of us wish we had been more photographically prolific when we were younger, if for no one else but ourselves, to be able relive that particular set of circumstances in which we grew up. I am guilty, too. I have nothing but faded Polaroid Swinger (remember those?) prints to remember when I was a little kid. I have more of the teenage years, mainly because our family was involved with showing Arabian horses, and that seemed to be one of those memorable activities that generates a lot of photographs. In my parents’ home there is a photo of my sister and me, sitting on our horses in front of a big globe near the coliseum at one of the countless fairgrounds where we showed. In some ways I barely remember that time, in other, it seems like just yesterday.

Even if your photographs seem to be insignificant, or you think, “who’d be interested in that?” take them. Take happy snaps. Take a quick photo when grandma isn’t looking. Later, you will be glad you did.

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