“Things do not change, we change” –Thoreau
“…and all you have to do is turn this little wheel”
“Like this Dad?” I ask unsure of myself.
“Yup, just like that, and then you push that button right there,” Dad explains as he points to the little gray button atop the ten-dollar plastic camera. “But first, look through that little window at the top, and point it at something you want to take a picture of.”
I align my eye with the small plastic window. Shape, line, light as if hidden by some heavy haze previously, now rush to my eye as I gaze at the enormity of the Saturn IV rocket residing in one of Kennedy Space Center’s massive arena-like buildings. I point my eye towards the massive white missile. As I press the weight of my plump pointer finger upon the button, light emits from the camera’s flash and the lens blinks its beady eye.
I was hooked.
From there Dad taught me all the need-to-knows about photography; using our family’s first digital – a brick of a camera some call a Fujitec; basic photo composition, with his Powershot; how to offset the exposure time, and with our 35 millimeter Canon Rebel, now my prize possession; aperture and shutter-speed.
With these skills came a fierce freedom.
The freedom to communicate.
To speak with a medium of expression stronger than any spoken sentence or written word; the liberty to express bluntly with blacks and whites, but also the ability to convey my confusion through countless shades of gray, and a jumbled mess of colors. Words and punctuation replaced by grains and pixels. Grammar rules swap with emotion. College ruled paper becomes 35mm film. Pens and pencils exchanged for my camera, my third eye; behind which, I am safe.
I can see the world, capture it, and hide from it all in one.
I feel distanced, unaffected, disconnected, even though as I examine I produce a web of film; forever intertwining my camera, my subject, and me.
Here I sit, holding that same plastic box that captured the delights of spaceships, satellites, and smiles. The bold letters of my name etched in yellow marker in mother’s handwriting, still there on its back to separate it from the cameras of my siblings. Once more I hold the camera’s slick black body against my face, and peer through the foggy viewing window.