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Fifty: On Collections and Obsessions

A reflection on the growth of my camera collection, and the growth of my person. Why do we take photos? Why do we collect cameras? What does photography mean to you?

It started with a Holga…

Film camera #50 is en route…

Stop right there. It’s not as crazy as it sounds! Many of these were obtained at bargain rates in thrift stores and antique shops. Prices have ranged from $3 to $30 on average, while big purchases like the LC-Wide and the Horizon are far fewer. You spend your money on beer, shoes, travel, vinyl records… Those things, they mean something to you, right?

Photo by j_rad

For me, cameras are not meaningless objects. They are tools with the ability to document, to make a record of the changing world. Imagine the history each of these pieces have; their previous owners, the people and places they’ve been and “seen”. Consider next the places that I will take them, the things we will do.

It may seem to my friends that photography is all that I post about, all that I do…And in truth, I think that the art may define me. Though not a working professional in the field, I love the camera, I love the photograph. We are living in a digital world, in an age when we are best represented by our profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn. When we grow old and die, what remains? If all of our memories are stored on discs and drives…If all proof of our lives are preserved in pixels and bytes, then what’s left for the future generations? Moments are forgotten as memory fails, and as our colleagues disappear, so does our collective history.

When I die, I’ll leave behind hundreds, thousands of negatives, and photographic prints, snapshots of my life. Will anybody care? Probably not. As stated previously, I’m no professional, and I hardly invest the time or care to create perfection. One could argue that I don’t even create “art”; I argue that such was never my intention. Many of my friends have projects, have vision, have themes. Me? I’m not saying anything. There’s no greater message, no subtext, no metaphor.

I just want to take a lot of pictures. I just want people to know where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, who I’ve laughed with, who I’ve slept with, and all the details of the beautiful world around me.

This world is chaotic; it truly is. Poverty and corruption, disease and scandal, pain and death, overpopulation and extinction, pollution and fear, shame and bigotry, bias and oppression, and blah blah blah and so on. It’s a crazy world, but hell, it’s beautiful, and it’s my world. These are the times we live in, and this is the way things are.

I’ll take my 50 cameras and I’ll keep shooting them. I’ll get better, and you’ll be able to see that improvement. Actually, that’s already visible now. Start at the last page of my Lomo Home and work your way forward; The milestones in my life are quite clear. Obvious are the acquisitions of new (and fancier) cameras and lenses; but it’s not just my gear. It’s the way that I see and “say” things. I begin to experiment with new films, I adopt new techniques.

More notable than my growth as a photographer are the changes in my life and lifestyle. Every moment is documented and on display for you. Some friends come and go, some faces pop up quite frequently, then disappear completely. Lovers and friends, each of them indicative of a point in time, in MY time. I move. I change. I endure. With these transitions, there is an accompanying change in the way that I perceive the world. If you look carefully, you can see the change in my heart and soul as well. Photography has made me new friends, some of my BEST friends. It’s taken me to places that I’d never have been and opened my eyes to worlds that I may never have discovered on my own. I wouldn’t trade any of that for all the money in the world.

Photo by j_rad

I’m 28. It’s been 5 years since I purchased my first film camera, and the number of photographs taken each year has increased exponentially. By the time I’m 30, I expect that I would have taken twice as many photos as I have in all of the years prior combined.

Check in with me when I’m thirty-three. Perhaps I’ll be teaching photography. Perhaps not. No matter where I end up, no matter where I go, I’m sure that there will be a record of my activity. Should you and I lose touch…should we forget to call or write or text or chat, you know where you can find me:

In the pictures.

Until then, stay shooting. Remember, Lomography is not an interference in your life, It’s a part of it. Buy cameras, take photos, share them, and show the world who you are and what 2012 felt like.

-Jared

And I still love the Holga.

written by j_rad

29 comments

  1. kneehigh85

    kneehigh85

    This is a great article and totally echoes how I feel!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  2. twinklecat

    twinklecat

    brilliant! do you have a photo blog?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. trincheiras

    trincheiras

    loved reading :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  4. redtulip

    redtulip

    great article ;D

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  5. guanatos

    guanatos

    I agree, at the end all those phisical documents (negatives) will leave on as a true legacy. Awesome article man!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  6. natalieerachel

    natalieerachel

    Awesome, I totally agree with you! Keep buying/shooting :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  7. buckshot

    buckshot

    Such a great article! And obviously very heartfelt. Glad to be with you on the trip of life, Jared!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  8. hollyelizabeth_

    hollyelizabeth_

    Wonderful article!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  9. clownshoes

    clownshoes

    Great deep article....but what new camera did you buy?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  10. renenob

    renenob

    You speak for a lot of us.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  11. walasiteodito

    walasiteodito

    wonderful article and inspiring too!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  12. robotmonkey1996

    robotmonkey1996

    50!!!??? Got one to spare for a broke high school student with a faulty Diana?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  13. psychofied

    psychofied

    Great article! Your reason for shooting in film was also mine. Hopefully in a few years, my camera collection will grow too. :)
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  14. feelux

    feelux

    A great read!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  15. vmhenshaw

    vmhenshaw

    Great article! I think I'm exactly the same as you!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  16. j_rad

    j_rad

    @kneehigh85 @twinklecat @trincheiras @redtulip @guantanos @natalieerachel @buckshot @hollyelizabeth_ @clownshoes @renenob @walasiteodito @robotmonkey1996 @psychofied @feelux @vmhenshaw

    Thanks for the likes and compliments, friends! I've been fortunate, to be sure. Collecting cameras started as innocently as buying a Holga on a whim, and brought me to a position as store manager for Lomography in San Francisco. I get to share my love for photos people every day. It's not about making money, though; It's about seeing the light in their eyes and the excitement that I felt, too, when I loaded my first roll of film. Unfortunately, I don't have a blow and my photos aren't well organized here, but I'm working on it! BTW, my 50th camera was a Bronica S2A, which is a Hasselblad competitor. Now that I've had a chance to digest it, I still prefer shooting with my Lubitel.

    Shoot me a message any time you guys want to geek out about cameras, or tell me about your favorites too!

    Take care for now, guys!
    -Jared

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  17. kolumbia

    kolumbia

    This is a beautifully written article, with fantastic shots to go along with it. You obviously love what you do. Never stop.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  18. mj_crn

    mj_crn

    amazing article. you summed it all perfectly.
    THANK YOU.
    KEEP ON SHOOTING : )

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  19. sassa_b

    sassa_b

    this is a brilliant article, and the shots are fansastic too! i really enjoyed reading it.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  20. sirio174

    sirio174

    great article!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  21. jbradley12

    jbradley12

    Great article, you've touched on my new-found love for analogue photography. Thanks!
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  22. shea_w

    shea_w

    Wow, that's a massive collection! Hopefully I will be in your shoes right now in 5 years time! Just got my 1st analogue cam, 23 too! :D

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  23. nikkiblair

    nikkiblair

    Fantastic article! I haven't been shooting film long, but I've already taken more shots that I love on film, than I ever have digitally. My best friends uncle passed away, and her mother gave me his film camera, and after seeing a couple of the pictures I took on our camping trip, her grandmother told me how glad she was for me to have it. It has absolutely become a huge part of my life, and I wouldn't change it for the world. :) Analogue love <3

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  24. sixsixty

    sixsixty

    Beautifully written. Long live your 50, I will keep the tradition going strong with a few of those.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  25. j_rad

    j_rad

    @sixsixty I'm glad that my cameras found good homes! It looks like you'd done some tests with the Horizon... Thoughts?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  26. j_rad

    j_rad

    @nikkiblair Thank you very much! I can relate to your story as well; My grandfather passed in the spring. Thankfully, the last time I'd seen him I took a lot of photos with my film cameras. None of my relatives had taken anything more recent, or at least had never printed photos from memory cards. We were all gathered around a coffee table sifting through old albums and trying to find shots of him at his best; My sister threw my pictures into the mix, and my family was truly grateful to have a few more to choose from. It seems a burden to store negatives and prints, but seriously... Life is too short not to have some physical, tangible pieces to remember our loved ones. Similarly, my friends just had their second child. The first came when film was still prominent, even if decreasing. They have photos of that baby from the moment she was born, prints all about the house. This time, all the memories are on cell phones. How sad is that? There won't be any printed pictures of the second child unless they actively download the pictures to their computer, THEN send them to print at a lab! :(

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  27. nikkiblair

    nikkiblair

    @j_rad I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather, but appreciate the reply and sentiment behind it. :) The negatives are almost my favorite part! My mother was interested in photography when she was younger (before and during my sister and I) and I love sifting through the old negatives, and trying to discern the potential in the tiny 35mm frames. I hope I'll always find a well thought out exposure preferable to a cell phone snapshot. It's nice to have a forum like this, with like minded people, with which to share such stories and memories! All the best. xx.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  28. marcel2cv

    marcel2cv

    Very impressive article! Just wrote a translation into German. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  29. lomodirk

    lomodirk

    Great one, I love the portraits!!!
    I was just like that, but at one moment I realized I couldn´t work with that many cameras so I started selling cameras which I haven´t used for at least a year. Even the number of pictures is retrogressive. But that doesn´t mean that there is no more love to analogue photography, it is just getting more intensive and I´ll not waste any frame...
    Nevertheless, great work, need to browse your home when there will be a little bit more time left...

    over 1 year ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch & Nederlands.