My first camera, a Kodak Brownie Starflash, was a clunker. But, the photos I took with it formed the base of my photographic vision.
“Why don’t you take any pictures of people?” my mother used to hound me. I hated family reunions because I was called upon to shoot boring rows and rows of family members in what I cursed as “line-em-up” shots. The pictures I took of the places we went were my personal favorites. In particular, there was a project I undertook to photograph the many faces of a nearby hill.
Other kids my age had cool Kodak Instamatics with color film. They laughed at my Brownie Starflash — a klunker of a camera that shot 127 roll film. I got the last laugh, though. The 126 cartridges they depended on are no longer made.
Mom’s restrictions limited me to one or two rolls each year. She didn’t trust me with color because it was “expensive.” It rattled her when the photos weren’t perfect. Photos of scenery fit this box.
The Starflash, however, with its plastic lens, molded the photographer that I am today. It taught me the beauty of black and white. Through its imperfect, soft-focused images, it helped make me see a world that could be caught within a frame.
With this camera I took my first wildlife photos — some elk at Yellowstone — and geysers that I would revisit nearly 40 years later.
The world changed. So did this photographer and his equipment. But when I opened my old albums following my mother’s recent death, I found good.
And I found this — a picture of my mom and dad at the Grand Canyon.
Look, Mom. It has people in it.
For more information on the Brownie Starflash, visit Camerapedia.