Old Photos

I’ve had some cameras that I thought were top quality, an Olympus 35mm for awhile, when they thought a lot of themselves, like they were the top choice of the professionals, and they might have been, I don’t know. They used to brag about how many lenses they had. So many options. A lens for every situation. I only had one, the one that came with the camera, a nice 50mm lens that got as wide as, what was it, something ridiculous, like, 1.2 or something.  I bought a couple more lenses, but they were third party, Sigma, Tokina, and I liked them too. Well rated by consumer’s report.

I took that camera on a cross country trip and shot a lot of film. It was mostly a manual camera, but it needed a small battery for metering that never lasted, so I sold it eventually. It would actually shoot without the battery only at 1/60th of a second, and without metering, so you’d have to guess – I should have learned to do that, though it could be expensive to experiment back in the film days.

Then I had a Canon Rebel for awhile.  I took a lot of photos with it in the early years of family.

I look at my old pictures now and realize that there’s a soft focus about them. I took a lot of landscapes because when I travelled, I wanted to more than document my trip, I wanted art. I thought that an artsy photo would only include what I was there to see, and an amateurish photo would have us in it. I did also like to take pictures of people, just not us, but also the mountain wouldn’t look at you funny if you take a picture of it. I guess I could have asked a person, “is it ok to take your picture?” But then it’s posed, and I hate posed pictures, for the most part. I was with someone once who asked a guy whether she could take his picture, and he said no.  She said, “no?” He repeated, “no.” And she didn’t take the picture. So, I took mostly landscapes.

Landscapes are where a professional’s technique shows, and I didn’t have all that. I really didn’t have the patience for it.  I assume it was me and not my equipment, although I didn’t have the best money could buy either. You can tell the professionals; their pictures have unreal clarity. People have a lot to offer in terms of character, such that you can forgive some technical imperfection, or just be satisfied with a certain standard you don’t have to go beyond. Photojournalism even more so, because it’s the content that matters, and they’ll take the best they can get.

But I like my photos. To me that’s how I remember the places, just a little fuzzy. Memory is always a blur, amirite? and a photo like that reminds me that things aren’t so still. Time never stops like in a photo. No matter how perfectly a person can recreate with a photo everything you could possibly have seen (and couldn’t see), it’s always going to feel woefully incomplete. You’ll never hear that creak, feel that breeze, smell that grass (or manure). A perfect image reinforces that so much is missing. Why not go impressionistic in general? Something can be abstract and still representational. It can hint more effectively at all of it, if it also just hints at what you would see. We don’t want to focus so hard. You’ll miss it.