A few weeks ago my friend Kris and I were talking, what is the correct term for having a conversation on Facebook?, about cameras. We were not swapping info on which SLR to get, we had that discussion at some other point, but rather we talked about the cameras we have had. It got me thinking of the ones that I remember from my life and the pictures they captured.
My earliest memory is not of a camera I owned but one my Dad had. It was a Leica and what I remember most about it is how long it took him to take each picture. You see this was the time when he had a flash that had to be attached to the camera, then he had to adjust the lens and we had to stand there for what seemed like an eternity while he adjusted the lens to get it clear, right. Through that camera the pictures we captured were of me arriving in the States - me sitting in the middle of my parents in every shot, as if they were going to make sure I was not going anywhere. It captured my last days in 5th grade, getting to my surprise the NYC Mayor's Award for Student of the Year, at the assembly with my Mom not able to attend because she had to work and my great aunt there to cheer me on in a language she did not know as she was visiting us. The same great aunt who had without hesitation taken me in when my parents left Romania and asked for nothing except a lot of kisses from me. The same aunt who I tortured once while she was in NY by running away from her and hiding, until she bought me an ice cream. That camera captured our travels as a family and the moments when you see my parents no longer together - smile was there but the body language said a whole different story. It is the camera that captured my father's next few relationships and my reluctant smiles with these women. The camera and many of his pictures disappeared along with the 2nd wife .. too much drama to recount and I have moved on.
My first camera that I remember was one I begged for - it was a disc camera. I thought it was a Kodak but it was not it was a Le Clic, in pink. For most people you will have to look this up. That camera captured high school trips, lots of hanging out and memories of a time when my biggest decisions ranged from whether to use my allowance money to buy cigarettes or lunch (usually split this with someone else so we had both). I remember taking that disc to the Genovese and waiting like a week to get it back - never quite sure of how good the pic I took was. It was the camera that captured junior dude ranch moments and a senior ski trip (I do not ski but I lounge very well).
My next camera was a Fiji, there were disposable ones that came around this time - easily bought, developed and gone, with a panoramic feature. This is the camera that captured my first trips with friends and no chaperones, my trip to the Dominican Republic with a boyfriend in college, the many nights out and parties. It was the camera along with the disposables that took me and my then friend, now husband, cross country on vacation and then to live in San Francisco. We took it to Nova Scotia, I still shudder remembering that trip and no stinkin picture makes me like it any better, and I took it to Greece to moments on boats and off them on islands with boys, friends, and lots of celebration drinking ... good thing for pics as there were moments I may have not recalled. It took the picture of the man my best friend and I dubbed god in oil, as he lay on the beach adding suntan oil on himself, who never noticed us (we were not old enough or rich enough to support him from the look of the women he did talk to). This camera was with me when I fell for someone in Spain and for the weddings of my closest friends. It took pictures on road trips to Virginia Beach and to Florida to reclaim a friend who needed to leave that state and a relationship that brought her there behind.
My last camera was a better Sony point and shoot type. This took some of my favorite pictures - for it was the camera I had when I had my first son. I have mounds of those developed photos, cause some day I will put them all in albums .. eye roll. It took pictures of him as he sat up, rolled over, and did funny things in his high chair. It captured his, and mine, first friendships in our town. This camera was there when my second son came along and took pictures of my older son squeezing his head, saying "I love you" with gritted teeth until I had to put camera down and ensure that love did not hurt.
These days my main camera is my phone. No more mounds of developed pictures, my mother who reminds me of this regularly, but the ability to share all over the world those moments in my life that give me such joy. It has limitations and I swear I need a "real camera" but it is so easy and so there - capturing more than ever because my phone and I are often together. It has captured my boys many parties, Sunday dinners, holidays, trips abroad and many, many beach times (I say as I sit here frozen and in need of summer...PUHHHLEEZZE).
I think back on those cameras, look at those pictures and I always smile. I do not grieve for the people who are no longer around when I look at them but rather smile at the moments captured on paper. I sometimes shock myself at how I looked at a certain period, sometimes wondering what was I thinking with that much hair, that much heel, those crazy pants ...but mostly I realize that I lived, really lived often and enjoyed the youth captured in those pictures. I cannot wait to say "can you take a picture of us" at the next good moment I want to capture ... CHEESE