Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photography Comes Full-Circle

My first camera, or one just like it (the flash extension allowed me to take flash photographs from as far away as 12 feet):

I can't remember how many boxes of Christmas cards I had to sell on behalf of the Junior Sales Club of Canada (a subsidiary of this group) but the effort paid off quite handsomely. I was probably 12 when I got it. I used the Kodak Instamatic to photograph friends and family members, as well as the credit sequences of Space: 1999 and Star Trek, as broadcast on my grandparents' colour television. That camera was good enough to serve my purposes right into my early 20s.

Everything changed in 1985, when I got my first job at a photofinishing store. It was a typical low-paying entry-level retail job, but they also allowed me unlimited use of their 35mm cameras. Since this coincided with the advent of potential girlfriends, the plastic kiddie-camera with the grainy film was quickly abandoned in favour of a professional-looking SLR with interchangeable lenses and a couple of flashes with slave-units.

In the right crowd (say, the University's Department of Theatre) a tripod and a large camera bag was a surefire chick-magnet. Dramatic young women appreciated a guy who took the time to set up and bring out their very best. If this required an hour on location (during the Brave New Wave 80s, the mode was to strike an aesthetic balance between “gritty” verisimilitude and fashionable glamour — bricked-in alleyways were a staple location) and one or two more in the darkroom, so much the better. The long and short of it all was ample attention was amply rewarded.

What a difference a quarter-century makes. These days a lovely girl will make the duckface for any hottie with a cell-phone, and happily settle for that. SLRs and their endless accoutrement are strictly the purview of recent parents — not exactly conducive to fostering convictions of glamour. Unless you are a newborn, attention is more fleeting than ever, so take what you get and be happy. Better yet, be overjoyed! With extra exclamation marks!!!

Makes me pine for the days of Kodachrome. And Long Playing Records. And massive headphones that make your ears sweat.

How did we so happily revert back to the quality of a 110 camera? When, exactly, did the Good Enough Revolution occur?

(With a sweeping tip o' the hat to Darko)

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