How my parents got me into photography by giving me their old junk.
When I was just a little girl, I would rummage trough my parents chests and drawers looking for interesting stuff. Among the old glasses, in memorian cards of distant relatives, and others odds and ends, my favorite finds were always the old pictures. My mum as a baby (so cute), three uncles as kids with musical instuments (I dind’t know they could play), my greatmother (never knew her), my dad in military service (look at how thin and hansome he was), stern portraits of my greatgrandparents… It was like travelling back in time.
But the most beautiful thing was this mysterious black box. It was metal and glass, very heavy, and had two lenses up front. I didn’t know what to make of it, but it intrigued me. It got even better when my dad showed me how I could open the top and look down through the viewfinder. Magic! Look down, but see what’s in front of you!
By that time though, my dad had long since given up on photography and my mum had taken over (she prefers to stay behind the camera because she hates having her own picture taken). The lovely twin lens reflex had been kept on purely as a memento, and for me to play with.
When I got older, and camera technique advanced, my mom decided she needed a new camera. Since the old one was still fully functional, and the cheapo plastic piece of junk that I called my camera broke down (in South Africa, on safari, argh!), I got that one. Yay! The trusted Olympus Trip that had been around from the time I was born was now officially mine! It made taking pictures so much more fun, when you could actually turn a wheel and adjust stuff. Sure, it was onlu the film speed and the aperture, but that still opened a whole new world for me, Where photography was not just about pinning down stuff thet you saw, but actually became a creative process.
I loved it. I still love it. Even though I have since bought about a dozen other (mostly) old camera’s, my Olympus Trip still holds a special place in my heart. Not as special though as my dads Yashica-D. After seeing how I loved tinkering whith my old camera’s, he remembered me playing with the old TLR, and one day I found a present on my doorstep. It was the Yashica! I won’t exaggerate and say it was the happiest day in my life, but it sure ranks in the top 25. It was the first camera I owned where I could adjust all the setiings. The 120 film was pleasantly exotic for me. And I could experiment with stuff like multiple exposures and loading 35 film in a 120 camera.
It no longer lives in the back of a cabinet, but has a special place in my living room, for anyone to admire. It’s not just for show, though. I always keep it loaded, so that when the mood strikes me, I can go out and use it. Because there’s nothing sadder that an old camera only gathering dust.