Sometimes people ask me what camera I shoot with. Well, I am married to my Nikons and I shoot a lot with my iPhone because that is what I have with me ALL THE TIME. Most recently I tried a relative’s Nikon Coolpix for underwater snorkeling photos/videos which was a fun experiment. But it got me thinking. What was my first camera? Then I went down memory road. Care to join me?
It feels like just yesterday. Picture tiny me, along with six + cousins, two brothers, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents all sitting on the floor of my grandparent’s house way up in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Christmas Eve morning. Sadly I can’t remember if it was Santa, my grandparents, or my parents who gave it to me. But, they gave me my first real film camera with an actual flash! I was too young so I am pretty sure I used up all of the flash bulbs and the film before everyone was even done opening their presents. My kind parents developed the film which produced photos of my shoes and wrapping paper and probably the wall. Nevertheless, it has been fun for me ever since.
I am pretty sure this Fisher Price/Kodak Camera is what my first camera was. I sure wish I still had it!
Later, I played around with my dad’s Pentax while taking an astronomy class in early college. Night photos fascinated me, they still do, but it was a failed attempt for sure. It was still a great time with the mechanics of the camera and that rainbow colored 70’s camera strap. (One of these days I need to steal that from him and make it my own.)
I borrowed my Mom’s Cannon point and shoot 33MM for my very first trip out of the country to Ireland in 1999. This trip and the photos that accompanied it sparked a restlessness that is still with me today. I remember being in Ireland during a solar eclipse. I ended up putting my sunglasses over the lens as a makeshift filter and taking a few photos whilst crossing my fingers. I ended up getting a great shot of the eclipse in one of the courtyards of Trinity College in Dublin. Proof you don’t need expensive equipment to take interesting shots…
In 1999 I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding in downtown Sacramento. It was there I met Diana Tompkins of D.ElainePhotography. http://delainephotography.com/ Diana and I hit it off because she is a wonderful, kind, giving person. She found out that I was headed to Ireland and asked me to show her my photos when I returned. I thought surely a professional photographer wouldn’t be interested in my silly photos using my mother’s borrowed camera and thought nothing more of it. Low and behold Diana contacted the bride and asked me to accompany her when she picked up her wedding album. I went and Diana was very excited to see my photos. I showed her what I seriously thought were terrible, juvenile, uninspired photos. She was impressed with my composition and asked me if I was interested in a job. I was currently employed by Uncle Sam and told her I already had a fruitful career path. She offered to teach me everything she knew, borrow her equipment, and pay me to shoot weddings with her. This was an opportunity I could not pass up which started a relationship that is still strong today. Sixteen years later I am still employed by Uncle Sam, am still shooting weddings part-time with the beautiful and talented Diana Tompkins, and I am forever grateful for her friendship and patience in teaching me.
My first Olympus digital camera was purchased shortly after this Ireland trip and was similar to the one pictured below. It was one of the best non-professional cameras I have ever owned. It was robust and consistent and a great deal of fun. It was a relief to be able to take photos at random with no thought to film cost or processing fees. Those costs were transferred to editing software and external hard drives.
Hasselblad is a beautiful word that just rolls off of the tongue. Diana let me borrow her medium format Hasselblad camera and spent a summer teaching me everything I needed to know. I fell in love with this camera for many reasons. To this day it still trumps any camera I have used in quality and consistency. It is a work of art to look at and hold.
I now shoot primarily with Nikon Nikkor DX 18-135mm and Nikon Nikkor AF 70-300mm lenses. I used these lenses with my Hasselblad and I still use them with my Nikon digital cameras.
Times change and the digital world has taken over. I was forced to change with it. I invested in a Nikon D700. With it came a whole new learning curve. But, boy did I fall in love with this camera. The luxury of shooting thousands of photos to get the perfect shot is really a pleasure. Using Lightroom to make the shots even more magical gives me hours of pleasure. Not only do I use my digital cameras for professional wedding shoots, family photos, etc. Most importantly I began taking it with me traveling. The professional work paid for the equipment so I could take it traveling!
Recently I invested in another new digital. The Nikon D800 has come in to my life. The D700 feels a little jealous and put off by the D800 but they are still good friends. I shoot with both when I do weddings. And when I travel I tend to take only the D800 now in an effort to travel light. This requires lens changes when necessary but I feel it still makes the most sense balancing awesome photos with one small backpack.
Some may say this is blasphemy others will be proud of me. But, I shoot quite a bit with my iPhone 5S when travelling. The quality of the photos isn’t there in comparison to my Nikons. But, the convenience is second to none. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to take out a large camera, light meter, flash, etc. Sometimes I just want to take a photo of my food, or a candid shot of my husband, or capture a split second moment. The iPhone is convenient and fits in my pocket. Every new version of the iPhone comes with a better and better camera. I feel the camera on the 5S has come a long way and am looking forward to an even better camera in the next version I pick up.
Do you have a first camera story? What do you shoot with? I never grow tired of hearing what others use. I am always impressed by professional expensive fancy equipment. But, often I am even more impressed when I hear of people using their camera phones or a Polaroid or a vintage camera inherited from their relatives. I am camera friendly and would love to hear your story.