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 on 2011-05-02 #lifestyle #mary-robinson #mary-s-photo-diary-series


  1. lighttomysoul
    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.

  2. fivedayforecast
    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.

  3. adi_totp
    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!

  4. dakadev_pui
    dakadev_pui ·

    This is greaaaaaat !

  5. nock
    nock ·

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

  6. eqbal
    eqbal ·

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

  7. eva_eva
    eva_eva ·

    you are so so cool! :D

  8. willyboy
    willyboy ·

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

  9. invaders
    invaders ·

    i really like your work :) I have a canon ae-1 program and it is the most amazing camera ever!

  10. ingwaybee
    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!

  11. loveweng
    loveweng ·

    that was great!!

  12. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Really amazing photos, the doubles really are beautiful!

  13. colinusmaximus
    colinusmaximus ·

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

  14. jbenning
    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!

  15. esmee
    esmee ·

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

  16. lalalalalalala
    lalalalalalala ·

    I love your work, Mary! I was so happy to hear that you wrote something for Lomography. :)

  17. mattcharnock
    mattcharnock ·

    AE-1's are awesome. Fact.

  18. zakguy
    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.

  19. elisss
    elisss ·

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

  20. so_r3tro
    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!!!!

  21. so_r3tro
    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*

  22. koalasve
    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.

  23. charlotteke
    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!

  24. welland
    welland ·

    Great shots the last one is really good

  25. azmorello
    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!

  26. hahajaney
    hahajaney ·

    Excellent photos!

  27. digum
    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!!!!

  28. fajaryayat
    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 :)

  29. vanecorp
    vanecorp ·

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

  30. megsshelly
    megsshelly ·

    How do you do the double exposure with this canon?

  31. passer
    passer ·

    amazing pictures! what type of lens do u have?

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