When people look at the photographs I took for my book, “Ordinary Time,” there are a lot of reactions, but usually everyone says, “you have a good eye.” This gives me a little chuckle. It always makes me think back over my years of picture-taking. I received my first good camera for Christmas from a friend back in 1982. When we moved to Miami, I spent hours and hours learning the subtle and often complicated techniques of 35 mm photography with that camera. I enjoyed color, black and white; landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes, and portraits; everything about taking pictures (except getting sand in my camera!). The fun lasted until my first pair of reading glasses. After that, I simply could not, try as hard as I could, figure out how to see what I was taking a picture of, and focusing was simply out of the question. I put my cameras away and just gave up, thinking I’d probably never take another picture again. Thank goodness and technology, in the last few years, digital cameras made their way into my life and my entire world changed. If you’re over 50, you know what I mean.
When I was a young child, I remember when a friend of our family, a professional photographer, gave my dad a camera. After that, there was no Sunday morning, no birthday, no graduation, no special event or holiday that did not provide my dad an opportunity to get out the Yashika and tripod, and set to work making portraits of everyone. Early on, I remember how excruciating it was for me, sitting there with my hair pulled tight into pigtails on either side of my head, suffering from what I would only find out decades later were migraine headaches, trying to smile while my dad focused for what seemed like hours at a time. More than once, someone in the family was reduced to tears waiting for that shutter to click. If I’d only known then the passion for getting that perfect picture that drove my dad. Photographs were not inexpensive to take back when you had to pay for film and developing. My rule of thumb in Miami was if I could achieve one good shot per roll, I felt it was worth it. Now, I can take literally hundreds of pictures and it costs me nothing at all to shoot them, look at them, and decide whether to keep or delete them. I can share them at no cost via electronic delivery systems. The whole activity has changed.
If my dad were alive today, he would be amazed to see what I can do with my cell phone camera! I’m certainly amazed. And, I have no doubt that while he might be hesitant to use a laptop or a cell phone or any other “modern” communication devices — once he saw what kind of pictures he could take with a cell phone, I’d bet he would own one, even if he never used it for a phone call.