Somebody asked me not too long ago if I could remember my very first photograph. Of course I remember it…like it was yesterday! Travel with me back to (cough) 1975:
It was the year of Captain & Tennille, Barry Manilow, KC & the Sunshine Band, and of course Labelle. Oh yeah get your groove on baby. You know you love some Lady Marmalade. And I’m not talking Christina, Li’l Kim, Mya and Pink. I’m talking the Patti Labelle led trio version. Go ahead and watch it…I’ll wait. They didn’t know what they were singing and they didn’t care. Anyway…1975. I’m pretty sure it was in the summer so I would have been 4 years old….maybe 5. We were on a family vacation to Gatlinburg Tennessee. The Gray 5 were rolling in style in their blue/gray Dodge Sportsman van. I’m pretty sure we slept in that van. I mean really, why stay in a cabin, or even a hotel when we have all the spacious room of this early 70’s stalker van? But the thing I remember most about the trip was that moment. It was the moment that possibly would define my career path. My mom had one of those newfangled 110 cameras…
Anybody remember the 110 camera? They were pretty straightforward, easy to use cameras that produced negatives about half the size of a postage stamp. What they lacked in image quality they made up for with their low cost…so it was the perfect camera for my family. On a side note, I met a gentleman a few years ago (when I was shooting film) who still shot with a 110 camera. He told me his 110 could outdo my medium format camera any day. Whatever.
So anyway we are sightseeing around the Great Smoky Mountains and my mom is very selectively taking pictures with the 110. Not only did it look like fun, but it looked easy to me. I mean all you do is push the button, right?
“I want to take a picture mommy.” I said.
I can’t remember my mother’s exact reply…but I was something like “Ummm….NO.”
Now remember, this was back in the day when it actually cost money to take pictures. You had to pay for the film that went into the camera, then you had to pay to have said film processed. It was money that I’m sure we didn’t have so I can hardly blame her for denying me the opportunity. Little did she know it was my (insert Darth Vader voice here) DESTINY!
I proceeded to pitch one of the greatest crying, sniveling, snot-filled fits in all of childhood history. And I know it was a good one too because it worked. If I would have just pitched a regular ordinary fit I would’ve gotten my tail busted and rightfully so…but oh no this was a good one. She handed me the camera and in one motion I dried up the tears, wiped off the snot, whipped around and…SNAP! So that was it…the rest is history. Would you like to see that photo?
Wait for it…
Ok technically I don’t have it…but it looked a lot like this:
The van. I took a blurry picture of the top of the dang van. Isn’t it wonderful! Hey I’m an artist I can do whatever I want. Seriously it’s fun to remember things sometimes. And although I never won any awards for the photo, I’ll never forget it. It’s funny to think about how times have changed, and how my kids have digital cameras now that they love to take pictures with. Jackson even takes after me a little…after he takes a shot he says “Wait! One more!” Sylvie even takes photos of her dolls and stuffed animals on “backgrounds” that she makes. Even little Payne has a camera that he points at us and says “Say CHEESE.”
Always remember the good times…