Where it all Started: Photography and My Dad

Most people can think of someone who has been revolutionary in their life for one reason or another. I certainly have plenty of people around me to be thankful for, but when I consider my love for photography, I know it all started with my Dad. He called last night as he was out on a bike ride around the city. Although it's December, it was in the 70s yesterday, which is odd, even for a place like St. Louis. As he was riding around Holly Hills he said something that stood out to me; something that he has said all my life; something that sparked my love from the start. He said, "I wish I brought my camera with me." Writing it down here feels like some would have seen it as an insignificant statement or something that one would say in passing. But to me, and my Dad, that was a statement we've each mutter hundreds, if not thousands, of times throughout our lives. When he said it, it started us on a discussion about photography and what my Dad loves about photography. Surprisingly enough, I've never had a talk like this with my Dad before. 

My Dad in 2010, taking a picture of me, taking a picture of him. It was on complete accident, but its a very memorable photo for me.

He began talking about how much he appreciated taking pictures of moments in passing, but that his real enjoyment for taking pictures was in photographing people. My Dad has hundreds of images of people who have been a part of his life; it's apparent just by sitting down for ten minutes in his living room, as shoe boxes emerge out of hiding and spill across the table and floor and pictures fill your hands. His collection is awesome. There are, of course, a plethora of images of my brother and I running around the house in our unmentionables, but there are so many more images than that. After a few short moments you come across images of my Dad's past cars, houses where he's lived, and scenes from places he's visited. You could spend months putting together the pieces of stories from his collection. And if you take the time to ask him, he can give you a backstory to so many of these scenes.

What I find most astonishing is that my Dad has taken a majority of his photos on a single camera. The camera isn't anything special. It's not a Canon AE-1 or Pentax K1000. Not even close. It's an old Wal-Mart special that he picked up when I was a kid. It shoots film, but does so through a ton of electronics. Surprisingly, it even shoots incredibly wide panoramas. This camera has been his trusted tool for photography for what seems like forever and he doesn't even seem too hurried to replace it. It works just fine - so why should he? And it's with these moments that my dad continues to teach me about photography and about life. Is my camera enough? Should I be constantly looking to the field for the latest advancement in camera technology? Is there a need to purchase the newest gear? My Dad has made great images, each that tell a story, and all without changing from his cheap, film camera. So this holiday season, as I look through the advertisements for all the camera gear, I hope I can remember back to each of the images my Dad has made and how he has done so with a single camera... a cheap camera.

But, ultimately, that goal will have to be a New Year's Resolution, because my new Leica should be here any day.

Shawn BruceComment