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Who I am and why I do…

July 8, 2009

Why do I shoot with plastic cameras?  Thats a tough question with many answers.  I haven’t actually been shooting for long, maybe a bit over a year now and it all started properly when I decided to get myself a Holga.

However, the actual beginning of my journey with photography started about 4 years ago in college.  Being reluctant to go to college in the first place I had no real direction or major and was just taking whatever classes I thought sounded interesting.  My mom had given me her old Minolta SRT 201 some years back so I decided to enroll myself in Photography 101.  I liked the class but I was the only student in it that didn’t have a LCD display and automatic settings and built-in flash on their camera.  So I really struggled through the class trying to understand the enormous text book and all the complicated calculations.  I finished that class and moved up to the next higher one but it was all more of the same.  Its sad to say that I gave up photography for a long time after this and my trusty SRT sat dormant for a long time.

Fast forward to a little over a year ago when I discovered the beautifully imperfect Holga.  I had heard of the camera before but didn’t really think much of it.  Being one for hobbies I consulted my fiance and decided to splurge on one (and yes I do mean splurge, being a volunteer even a cheap camera is a large expenditure).  It was a match made in heaven for me.  A cheap ‘little’ camera to carry around with me wherever I go.  It felt good to take pictures again and to not worry about shutter speed and aperture.  Photography now became a leisurely part of my life instead of a complicated confusing chore as it had been in college.

This is when what I call the ‘fever’ set in.  I decided, probably sub-consciously, that my Holga was lonely on the shelf all by itself.  Its amazing how rationality flies out of the window when you get fixated on one thing and at this point all I wanted to do was shoot film.  Now I have (I think) fifteen different cameras, very little money and not enough film to fill them all.  But for me the point is not to get stressed out about things like this, I have the rest of my life to shoot and I’m in no rush.

My toys actually came at a point in my life when I really needed them.  I am a volunteer living in a community with special needs people in Northern Ireland but I am originally from the States.  I met my wife over here and about a year ago things got really complicated.  My visa to work in the UK ran out and I’ve been back and forth across the Atlantic trying to sort it all out just so me and her can spend the rest of our lives together.  Photography has been like a bridge between the two continents for us.  I can take pictures when I am away and she can see them through that miraculous thing called the internet.  I have even found myself going through my Flickr stream just to see old pictures of us together, when life wasn’t so complicated.  Because of my photography I can always take a little piece of the good life with me no matter how far away I am from home.

This is what matters most to me with photography, the ability to document life in a way that is special and unique, and because I shoot with toy cameras it comes very easy.  The cameras just became part of me, no thinking, no worrying and no trouble.  All I have to do is reach in my bag and grab a camera if I want to remember something.  I have thousands of pictures on my computer from my digital camera that I never look at but I am always going back my film prints and it always puts a smile on my face.  This is what keeps me shooting with toy cameras.  It never gets old, each shot matters and each shot is something special.  My digital camera sits in a drawer with dead batteries while I have trouble everyday trying to decide what camera to take with me when I leave the house.

So I guess you can say that my journey through toy camera photography has become part of my larger journey through life.  I have become a photographer, not a professional one but not an amateur one either.  It is just one of my roles, one of my titles like brother and son.  My cameras will go with me throughout my life and be there for all the special moments.  My life hasn’t settled down yet and it won’t for quite a while and the future is still on shaky ground but I can always relax with some plastic when I need to.  My cameras have brought me closer to myself as well as those closest to me and have opened my eyes to the beautiful part of life I find so hard to see sometimes.  When me and my cameras get together all worries and stress melt away for that brief 1/125th of a second and sometime thats all I need to look forward to tomorrow.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Gretch permalink
    July 10, 2009 12:58 am

    This is the first time I read your blog. You remind me so much of Uncle Rusty, creative, loving, passionate etc… I’m sorry you are stuck here in the States when you hate it so much. You can always come over here and hang out.

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