Thursday, December 10, 2015

Home Movies

My family didn’t have a movie camera but did have a box brownie that captured some of my history. Little black and white photos of my brother and I standing still all dressed up before going to church was the physical recording of our existence in the 50’s. No sound or motion, just a still shot.
The images were put in binders and stored away except when guest would come over. Usually the recent photos were passed over for the wrinkled cracked and blurry older shots of my parents or their parents with everyone giggling trying to figure out when the photo was taken and who those people were.
There were no slide shows or movie projectors.
One year I got a little Kodak point-and-shoot but film was expensive and getting it developed more so. I did take it to school and recorded my classmates. A teacher saw my interest and promoted me to Photography Editor for the high school yearbook. Two of my friends would attend football games and staged group shots on borrowed cameras. The film would be developed and I would choose the best shot. I also learned how to crop and size photos on a page layout. Training that would come in handy later in my publishing career.
By the time that college rolled around, all us art types had to get camera. It was an interesting experiment of trying to afford lenses, filters, and upgrades. We’d shot anything from trashcans to back stairways seeking that perfect shot. Still scraping change to purchase film, we had the opportunity to reserve a block of time to stand in a dark room and mix toxic chemicals to time our processing of an image. Unfortunately everyone else wanted some ‘free’ film processed so I saw more nude girlfriends than I ever wanted to.
Some of my friends continue to capture times, but photography was just too expensive for me. I had other expensive habits to spend limited funds on. I would now and then dabble in trying to capture a moment and some are very rare now.
Cameras became cheaper, but now slides were popular and the carousal projector was the tool to entertain guest with vacation trips and silly children. Began drinking wine about this time.
Polaroid’s cut the price of developing but it was clunky and took some time to set and had not adjustments. Of course every couple had to purchase one to make their homemade pornography.
Followed up by the video camera, a marvel of 8mm movies without all the trouble of lights, sound and action. The VHS boxes popped into a flap open door and as long as the battery was charged motion and sound could be recorded and played back through the television.
Digital was a bit of a struggle to get enough pixels to make an image but software was invented to adjust curves and levels and dodge and burn after an image was captured. Today the phone can take a selfie and post it online for the world to see.
Defining ourselves by our photos is an interesting phenomenon of the human species. From the cave wall paintings to the masters’ portraits of kings and queens, we want to preserve our image. There is no existence without a photo ID.

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