Monthly Archives: December 2010

Early Work

Speaking of old photos saved for no particular reason, there is also this. I suppose I can’t complain too much about my grandmother’s placing a bad photo in the album, since I myself have kept practically every picture I’ve ever taken. In response to a post on APUG, I pulled out the bag I keep some of my early work in to see if I could identify the oldest photo I still have.

At this point it would be impossible to determine with certainty. I first got interested in photography in summer camp. One of the first cameras I got to use was an Argus C3, presumably because even then you could likely find them used for free or cheap (if you go to a flea market or antique store today, there’s a good chance you’ll see one or two of these). I know that some people actually like them, but it’s a terrible choice for a small child, heavy and difficult to operate. I remember that the rangefinder dial was hard to turn.

Later, when my dad got his Nikon (which I still have), he gave me his Agfa Silette (which I also still have). The Silette has no meter or rangefinder, so I practiced guessing distances and set exposures by the information sheets that came with the film. I was about nine when I got the Silette. A variety of cameras came and went in those days. I recall also having a couple of 110 cameras—a Kodak Pocket 10 and a 20 (which I no longer have). Heck, sometimes a camera wasn’t even needed. A scrap of an old film strip could be made into a picture:

So now I have this pile of prints and negatives I made in the early-to-mid seventies. The photo at the top is probably one of the earliest that I still have. The negative is gone, and as you can clearly see, I hadn’t quite got the hang of lining the easel up straight under the enlarger. I think the kid in the photo was named Nina. I think she was older than me. That’s about all I can remember about that. There are other pictures in the pile that are even more mysterious to me.

Actually, they aren’t completely mysterious. I can remember where most of them were taken, and could probably sort them into a rough time order. Names of people are mostly lost. I have a fairly tenuous connection to my former self. Later years, from, say, junior high-school onward, are clearer, but most of grade school is a blur. I’ve heard it said that when we get old and senile, early memories get clearer, and the later ones start to fade. So maybe I should hang on to these photos, and I might eventually get them back.