Sunday, April 27, 2014

Waiting for the photo

I am still thinking about photography today.   I wrote a blog about old photos yesterday and this is a follow up to that blog.  I have mentioned any number of times how much I enjoy taking photos.  My Aunt Louise bought me my first camera when I was around nine.  I wrote about that in my very first blog here several years ago. I found the photo above of my exact camera on google.  I was surprised to find the exact one as "Imperial" is not exactly a well known brand.    I was thinking today about how photography has changed in the digital age.  There was an excitement and anticipation about taking photos pre digital.   You would have to go out and buy a roll of film.  I used to like to use Kodak 620 Verichrome Pan.   It would cost me almost a weeks allowance for the roll of film. Ansco film was a little less expensive so I used that often also.   620 Kodacolor was out of my range.   So like most people back then I shot my photos in black and white.

That little bright yellow, red and block box held a weekends worth of fun for me.  The film came wrapped in a metallic little bad to protect it.  You had to break the seal on the side of the film to open the roll and then place it in your camera.  Then you had to manually attached it to the spool inside your camera.  And finally you had to  wind the film into position until you saw the number one in the back of the little window in your camera.  It you didn't get it set right you might only get half a photo.  And who wanted to waste a photo when you only got twelve exposures to a roll of film.

It seems impossible now but a little roll of twelve exposure film would last a long time.  I remember a sixth grade field trip to Washington D.C. and I used one roll of film to document the day.  I came home with a photo of the White House, a photo of the Washington Monument and a photo taken from the top of the Washington Monument.  I had a photo of a friend taken inside the school bus.  There were no selfies, no special angles, or multiple shots of the same place.  But I did have a full days experience documented on a roll of twelve exposure film.  And the anticipation set in, waiting to see the developed photos.  I would take my roll of film down to Mrs. Waller at The Harford Stationery Store on Washington Street in my home town of Havre de Grace. She would then have it sent over to Pershing Studio a couple of blocks away for development.  It usually took four or five days to have the completed photos returned.  And Mrs. Waller looked at every photo that came into her store.  And she would let you know if she liked them or not.  There are no secrets in a small town.

A few years later when I was in junior high school Polaroid came out with something magical.  They created a Polaroid Land Camera that was affordable for everyone.  Their original camera was quite expensive and was not made for preteens.  But the Polaroid Swinger was made for my generation.  At least that's what their commercial said with swinging sixties music and young people taking photos a party.  I just had to have one.  It was the number one item at the top of my Christmas wish list.

Opening it up Christmas morning was so exciting.  I put that first roll in film in the camera and proceeded to take some of the worst photos of all time.  It was a terrible camera.  You had to pull the photo out of the side of the camera.  Then you had to wait 60 seconds, then peel open the photo.  Then you had to apply a special chemical to the photo to protect it.  And the photos really weren't worth protecting.   But I never noticed that fact.  It was just too exciting to be able to see your photo 60 seconds after taking it.  I wasted a lot of allowance money on Polaroid Swinger film.   My Aunt Louise who bought me my first camera also thought it was fantastic and bought one for herself.

Mad Magazine had a spot on satire of the Polaroid Land Camera rage.  It was the 60 second disappointment.   Of course today we can be disappointed or delighted with our photographs in a matter of a second.  It's almost instantaneous disappointed or delight.  You can delete, edit, flip, and share your photos in a moment.  Some of the excitement of waiting is gone.  And now instead of enjoying places I am are visiting or taking time to talk with people on my photo adventure I am too busy taking a couple of hundred photos a day.  I don't get to really appreciate a lot of places I visit until I get home and look at the photos on my big screen television. It's the digital age.   Time to end this blog.  I feel the need to take a selfie.


  1. Replies
    1. I was surprised to find that photo of my my first camera on Google. And it came up on my first search. I have not seen one like that in years. Great memories.