MY LIFE IN CAMERAS
My life has had cameras in it for longer than I can actually remember. The collection above includes most of the cameras that I have used throughout my life, even if I don’t actually remember using them. The following [pictures of the] cameras [above] have distinct memories tied to them. I tried to put the cameras in order, as if to correspond with my growing up, but memory, as always, can fail us.
I don’t actually remember using this camera. For some reason I just have a vivid memory of looking at a picture my parents took of me running around with this camera, taking photos, around age four.
One day at the zoo in Berlin, around the age of 9, I saw somebody taking a picture. I yelled to my mom that I wanted a camera too! This is what I got, and let me say, I was a bit disappointed, to put it lightly. I wanted a real camera. One that I could own and use forever. As it happens, I’ve had this one my whole life… somehow.
Kodak AdvanTiX F320
This is what came next. Very shortly after my disappointing disposable, 9 year old rage, I was “gifted” the F320. This was my first real camera of memory. It was just a simple plastic color film camera, but I could take roll after roll of pictures and it was permanent. I don’t actually remember any of the photos I took with this camera, but it has a special place in my heart - and was featured in my Common App Essay.
Vivitar ViviCam 3710
This was my first digital camera. It didn’t have a long life, or at least not in my memory. My parents bought me this fairly cheap model while we were in San Francisco, by the pier. We were at a tourist’s destination for sure, and we definitely fit the bill. We were getting ready to go on a cruise. My only vivid memory of this camera is that my dad was frustrated by it. It sucked, according to him. I think I remember him saying we were ripped off, which may or may not be true. The SD card is still in the camera to this day. The only photo from that card that I remember is one [of taking photos] of my parents in our hotel room.
Nikon ES5600 & Spy Car
The Nikon E5600 was launched in 2005. I got it around 2006, my first step up into the big leagues, quickly replacing the “rip off Vivitar.” This was a real digital camera with 5.1 megapixels! I don’t think I took many pictures with this camera, but was getting more into making fun little family movies. When this camera was replaced, and beginning to age, I decided to attach it to an RC Mini Cooper to spy on a babysitter, who I detested. I have video footage to prove it worked, but there was nothing stealth about my operation.
The Flip Slim
At this point I was really starting to get into making family vacation movies. I would use my dad’s original Flip camcorder, and started to use it more than him. So, around 2007, when the second generation Flip video camera was announced, my dad got me one for my birthday, with a custom designed front that he made.
Olympus Stylus 790 SW
What a beautiful name for a camera! Name rolls right off the tongue. But that's besides the point. In 2009 my sister and I got matching versions of the Stylus 790. Mine in black, hers in lime green. Again, didn't take many pictures. This was more for my new found passion for making movies. And this camera was great, because it was waterproof! Waterproof video! I was golden.
The Sony CyberShots
These cameras marked a big turning point for me. In the summer of 2010 I took a film course in New York City, a program run by The School of Cinematography and Performing Arts (SOCAPA). Fresh out of middle school, my friend and I decided we would do it together, me taking the video program, and him the photography program.
All together it was only two weeks, but two weeks of hell for me. My friend had a blast.
For a SOCAPA film program, you had to both come up with the story idea, write the script, find the actors from the acting department, as well as cast them, locate places to shoot, and edit, for two film projects in only TWO WEEKS.
While at the SOCAPA film program, I remember one night looking into good point and shoot cameras as an entry point for photography. My research landed me on the CyberShot, the one on the left.
Two Canon 7Ds - Stolen
In the summer of 2011 I went on a National Geographic Photo Expedition in Italy for 11 days around Florence. My dad, having some past photo experience, decided it was time for me to step up my game, and gifted me a Canon 7D DSLR camera. The few weeks I had before the trip I experimented and tried to learn everything I could about the camera.
During the trip I learned all of the photo basics, and how to shoot manually, which is the way I almost always shoot today.
It was the beginning.
Unfortunately, half way through the trip, my camera was stolen while we were eating outside. It was to never be found again. The photos on the other hand were safe on my computer.
Thanks to some insurance on the camera, and a store stop later I had another identical 7D.
After the actual photo program was over my parents met up with me to continue a three week vacation around Italy. Near the end of our journey, my luck hit an all time low. My new replacement 7D was stolen, but literally right from above my head. It was in the cabin of a train we were traveling on. When we got to our destination, the camera was gone.
Canon 5D MK II
Luckily insurance helped again for the last stolen 7D, but my dad, seeing how I was getting ever more into photography decided to upgrade me to the 5D MK II in 2011. This is my go to camera to this day. It also jumpstarted my interest in cinematography, as I was asked to make a promotional video for the nature preserve in my town. The 5D MK II is my go to because it also has amazing video capabilities, and with the right attachments and accessories, not only can you produce gorgeous photos, but videos as well. I have become very protective of my cameras after my bad luck, and in this photo you will notice a white tag. It’s a tracker…
Before this was my camera, it was my mom’s.
My mom’s dad, my grandfather, gave this camera to her in 1977 for her first photo course at The Ohio State University. During my sophomore year of high school I took a course on black and white film photography, and used the very same camera.
iPhone 5 and 6
At this point you may notice the chronology is getting a bit wacky, but hey, our memories aren’t just one stream of consciousness.
Ever since I got an iPhone 4 and up, I have used it for taking photos, casual or otherwise. The first photo of this project, of all the cameras - taken with the iPhone 6. It’s true, the best camera is the one you have with you.
Olympus OMD EM-5
I believe I got this camera in late 2012, maybe early 2013. At that point I was addicted to photography, and enjoyed making films. I wanted a good camera that I could have with me, but not have to lug around the giant 5D. It’s not a DSLR, it’s a 4/3 mirrorless camera. In other words, a digital view finder, and a smaller censor. But still some damn good pictures.
Leica Model T
Leica, if you are a photographer you know the name. This camera was added to my collection almost out of impulse more than anything. It’s similar to the OMD EM-5, but beautiful, in typical Leica fashion. It was a whole new model for Leica, which is a big deal. I was with a friend in China when it came out… and somehow I got one - a graduation gift. All the official Leica stores in Hong Kong had sold out, but my friend and I were determined. We went to a pretty sketchy part of the city, and somehow, with a lot of luck I got a model T. More Art than a camera.
The End… I think not.
More will come. None will go.
Who knows… maybe I’ll be a cinema studies major.
Maybe not. Only time can tell. But I can tell you one thing now…
I will never stop.