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Mary's Photo Diary: A Love Affair with My Canon AE-1

As promised, here is Mary's first entry for her very own Photo Diary series wherein she dissects her affinity with her favourite SLR camera.

Hi, I’m Mary Robinson and I’m a 17 year old photographer from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m going to art school this fall and I plan on majoring in photography.

My first “serious” camera was my Canon AE-1. My friend Isabel (the dark haired girl in almost all of my pictures) started taking pictures with her dad’s film camera and I was jealous and wanted a film camera of my own. My mom found her old Canon AE-1 and I took it to a local camera store to fix it up. The store is great a great place for film photographers (it’s actually a local Lomo dealer!) and I later took darkroom classes there. My first rolls with my Canon were horrible! I didn’t take the time to learn about shutter speed and aperture before shooting so all of the pictures were super bright, and honestly, not very pretty. After I googled the Canon AE-1’s user manuel and read up about it’s features, I started to take pictures I liked. The Canon AE-1 is honestly the best film camera ever made and I’m obsessed with it- I don’t think I’ll ever love a camera as much as I love this one. The owner of the store, who has hundreds of film cameras, said the same thing when I took it in to get fixed. It’s a great camera for beginners and I’ve recommended it to so many other people.

An example of one of those beginning shots when I had no idea what I was doing:

After I learned about my camera:

After you get down the basics of your camera, you can start to experiment with it. These are some of the techniques I’ve learned through my camera:

Double exposures are fairly easy with film cameras. You just expose the picture, press the film release button, and wind the film-advance back.

Another easier way to do double exposures is to send the film through your camera twice. Just don’t wind it all the way back up after the first round. Tierney Gearon, one of my favorite film photographers, uses this technique in her “Explosure” series.

If you hold a finger over the lens, it creates a gradient-like effect. This is sometimes tricky to do- you have to just barely cover the edge of the lens.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to try new things! Try every single thing your camera can do. Don’t limit yourself. My Canon AE-1 was my first real camera and I’m still learning all of the neat tricks it can do.

Mary Robinson is a young photographer from Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her film adventures in her very own visual diary series right here in the Analogue Lifestyle section!

written by maryrobinson


  1. lighttomysoul


    yeah! Canon AE-1 for the win!! I got to try one out a few years ago and it was loads of fun (although I failed to wind the film on right so I thought it didn't work, but I still loved all the settings and the feel of the camera! What film are you using most? I really like the film used in these pictures.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. fivedayforecast


    I've got my father's old AE-1 too! It's an amazing camera. It seems like everybody's parents have one as well so look around, I'm sure you'll find one. But I always still have trouble doing doubles with it. I wind the film back and everything but my next frame ( a photo I usually don't intend on being in the double) inturrupts half way through the frame. Still gotta learn bout it.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. adi_totp


    I love your shots! I liked them on your home! I'm a fan. a big fan of your canon ae-1 shots!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  4. dakadev_pui


    This is greaaaaaat !

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  5. nock


    Cannon Ae-1 is THE best camera in the world :D I also own one that was my dad'sehehhe

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  6. eqbal


    Canon AE-1 rules!!! I love my Canon AE-1 :D Great work!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. eva_eva


    you are so so cool! :D

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  8. willyboy


    Nice shots. Even your beginner example ain't all that bad.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  9. invaders

    i really like your work :) I have a canon ae-1 program and it is the most amazing camera ever!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  10. ingwaybee


    Magical double exposures. I never thought about trying double exposures on an slr because I didn't think it was possible. Now I'm exited to begin experimenting!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  11. loveweng


    that was great!!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  12. simonh82


    Really amazing photos, the doubles really are beautiful!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  13. colinusmaximus


    BEAUTIFUL!!! i recently fished out a Canon AE-1 and purchased it ... CAN'T WAIT 2 start a love affair with it :D~

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  14. jbenning


    Excellent article and photos!! I have a Canon AE-1P and I just finished my second roll. It is a great camera and I can't wait to continue to experiment!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  15. esmee


    Thanks for giving new ways to experiment with the AE-1 :)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  16. lalalalalalala


    I love your work, Mary! I was so happy to hear that you wrote something for Lomography. :)
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  17. mattcharnock


    AE-1's are awesome. Fact.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  18. zakguy


    Hell yes, I'm also an ATL native who uses the Canon AE-1. Glad to see there are more of us around here than I might have thought.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  19. elisss


    Wow! Great pictures! And great article...my canon ae-1 just arrived today and guess what, my film in alredy at the laboratory! Can't wait to see the results!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  20. so_r3tro


    I really love your stuff.... I really want to try some of these great camera tricks<3 It's almost impossible for me to express how inspired I am!!!!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  21. so_r3tro


    I so agree, what film are you using, I would love to know *I have the Canon A-1, and I've produced some good work with it... It's the superhero and I'm the sidekick<3 lool*
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  22. koalasve


    lovely photos!! and I also wanted to thank you a lot for linking Tierney Gearon, which I didn't know and that will from now on be one of my inspirations. wow.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  23. charlotteke


    Ahhh a tribute to my favourite camera! I got the one from my dad too and it has never let me down. Keep up the nice work!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  24. welland


    Great shots the last one is really good

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  25. azmorello

    The AE-1 is super awesome! bought it from a dude whose wife nagged at him throw away his stuff. Now its my turn to do good with this cam!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  26. hahajaney


    Excellent photos!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  27. digum


    NICE!!! so glad you had and have so much adventure with your AE-1. I still shoot with my A-1 and will never give that up. I get my best work from that camera. KEEP FILM ALIVE!!!!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  28. fajaryayat


    You are my fave Mary! the reason I bought Canon AE-1 is you, and now I have AE-1P, A-1 and EF. luv this camera thanks Mary :)
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  29. vanecorp


    Is this camera the same as the Canon AT-1?? because this camera seems very interesting and I got a good offer...

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  30. megsshelly


    How do you do the double exposure with this canon?

    over 2 years ago · report as spam

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