June has been a busy month for me this year! I've been doing lots of graduation sessions, plus I've also been doing some shooting for my friend Perry. I have a big stack of editing that needs to get done, but I'm taking a break to write this special post.
Today is Father's Day and naturally I'm thinking of my dad today. If you have read my blog post "A Little Bit About Me" you will know that I have been involved in photography for a long time...but I didn't go all the way back to the beginning. Grab a cup of tea...this is a longer post.
I got my first camera when I was about 12 years old. It was a cheap little thing that used "126" film and great big flash cubes. I had a lot of fun with that camera and took it with me on band trips and family holidays for years.
When I was in high school I took a lot of art classes and decided that I wanted a career in art. I originally wanted to be a children's book illustrator, but my high school had limited options for art classes, so I took some classes at another nearby high school that offered a graphic arts course. It was there that I learned photography. I learned how to develop black & white film and print it on an enlarger. Plus we had all kinds of interesting photography assignments including studio portraiture which I really loved. But I needed a better camera for this class, so my dad let me borrow his. He had a Pentax 35 mm camera, and I loved using it!! Learning how to operate that camera was both fascinating and mysterious. I learned how to make the little needle move to the center so that my photos were properly exposed, and I learned how to compose and how to see the world through a camera lens!! My dad liked the fact that I was learning photography. He helped me build a little darkroom in our basement, and even tried to talk me into becoming a photographer for the local newspaper. I still wanted to become a commercial artist though and didn't intend to pursue photography as a career, but several years after high school I moved away from home and ended up working in a photography studio.
I always knew that my dad loved taking photos. One of my fondest childhood memories is of our entire family sitting in the basement, killing ourselves laughing, while we looked at old family photos on the slide projector. My dad travelled a lot with his job and liked to photograph the different job sites he was on, and all the interesting scenery that he saw on his travels. So, interspersed among our family photos are pictures of random bridges, buildings, tractors, pulp mills, airplanes, and churches. We kids just patiently looked at these photos and listened to him tell us about them, while we waited to see the next funny photo of my brother with chocolate cake on his face. As a kid I didn't pay much attention to all my dad's photos. It was just part of our life.
Fast forward to today. My dad is now in his 80's and spends the majority of his time with his first love...his garden. But when he can't be in his garden he spends a lot of time sorting out his vast collection of old slides. On a recent trip home to visit my parents, my mom told me about how my dad is spending a lot of time with his slides, and we got talking about his photography hobby. It was then that I learned then that I come from a line of family photographers!! My grandfather (my dad's dad) was also a photographer! We don't know too much about his photography but we do know that he had a camera way back in the 1920's and even had a darkroom to develop his own pictures. He also made it a priority to have regular family portraits taken, which was unusual because my grandparents had twelve children, and lived on a farm! They were not rich, and were not fancy people, so his family and his photography must have been very important to him.
I suspect that must have been where my dad caught the photography bug because when my mom met him in 1956 he had his own camera and was already taking pictures of his travels. My mom saved my dad's old camera and lots of his old photos. Again, they were photos of buildings, and airplanes, and roads, and all the interesting things he saw along his way...like this pretty lady...my mom.
Now that I am older and have spent a lot of time taking photos myself I finally get it! My dad has never had good hearing, but he can see very well..and this was a way for him to capture the world he saw and share it with us. Looking through my dad's photos is like seeing the world through his eyes. Each one of these photos is a little piece of him. What a treasure.
Here is my dad with that old Pentax camera.
Thanks for sharing that camera and your love of photography with me dad.
Happy Father's Day. I love you!