I’m in no way a National-Geographic-quality photographer (though I am trying to learn some secrets to taking better photos), but I do enjoy taking photographs.
When I was little, my folks had a black-and-white Polaroid Swinger. Cameras were pretty expensive back then, and I was really young, so the camera was my parents’ property and I wasn’t allowed to use it at all.
When I was maybe 11 or so (I’m sure I’ll pick out the exact date as I find more of my family’s old photographs), my dad got a Polaroid SX-70 camera. For those who are unfamiliar with Polaroids of the 1970s, this was the first camera where the film auto-ejected and the picture would develop as you watched it. When my dad got this camera, I finally got one of my own — the old Swinger. So I think that every black-and-white photo in the albums after this point is likely to be mine.
My mom sent me to Girl Scouts for years. The first few years were pretty good, despite the sexism in a lot of the materials (A “housekeeping” badge? Really?). Later I got into a group that were mostly strangers and all of my friends dropped out. This was the beginning of the end of Girl Scouts for me. In that era, we had a project on photography and the theory was that we were going to get a chance to develop our photographs in a real darkroom, so I had to buy black-and-white 35mm film and borrow someone’s Kodak camera. I ended up needing to take my photos in to be professionally developed. I cannot remember if we ran out of time or if I was sick the day that we developed them, or we had some kind of family event planned and I missed it.
In what I am pretty sure was now 1981, my mom got a Kodak (I keep wanting to type “Kodiak” for some reason) disk camera, which she allowed me to use. On our 1988 vacation, I think I took as many pictures with it as she did.
I got married in 1991. My (now-ex) husband and I each got a cheap 35mm camera. We used those things for years. I think I have three of them around here because one time (I think it was our trip to Wisconsin) one of us left ours at home and we had to buy another one.
In the late 1990s, my ex-husband started buying digital cameras. I was allowed to use them, but they were primarily his. At this point, I mostly used those cheap disposable cameras. We upgraded digital cameras twice before we split up in 2008.
Once I was on my own, I went out and bought my own digital camera (then a year later I ended up getting a job at that same Walmart). I needed to keep it inexpensive, and ended up with a Nikon Coolpix. I still have it and use it a few times a year. I use my Galaxy S5 phone as a camera more often, simply because I have it with me. During our 2014 trip to Italy, I took probably close to 2,000 pictures, around 700 of which were with my Nikon.
By the way, I get a real kick out of the Google “Auto Awesome” feature. It has taken some of my best photos and made them better. It has also taken some of my more . . . interesting photos and made them, well, more interesting. In 2014, I took a picture of a pigeon in Newark Liberty International Airport and for some reason, that is the picture that Google decided to “Auto Awesome.” I can’t explain that one.
(originally posted May 14, 2015; edited July 9, 2015.)