Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Canon AE-1.

This is my late grandma with her Canon AE-1, a long time ago at our family's favorite summertime retreat, Skip's Pond. I know it must have been a long time ago because I inherited the camera from her back when I was in high school, when her Alzheimer's began to kick in and she could no longer use it. It has since followed me to college, to Europe, to a different coast, to the South and the Midwest and California and so many numerous trips in between, most of the time haphazardly shoved at the bottom of my bag, and with the exception of a few scary months when it was abducted by a sketchy camera shop in Boston who I entrusted to fix it - it stopped working on Kathy's and my second day in San Francisco and I freaked out and almost started crying, oh God I just remembered this! - it has survived just fine.

This week in an attempt to clear up my ever-helplessly-cluttered desk I picked up one of the, oh, 12 or 13 Ritz Camera boxes I have lying around, and started up my scanner for the first time in months. And I really looked at some of these pictures my Canon AE-1 is still taking, and I have to say. I have a pretty decent digital camera, which I do love, and I do also know that I know far less about digital cameras and photoshopping than I should, and I maybe should have taken more advantage of that stuff when I was in school and minoring in photography instead of spending all those hours geeking out in the darkroom, but...there are no pictures like the pictures this old, simple camera takes. It's the colors, and the crisp focus - goodness help me, I can't tell in all those pixels of my digital camera screen if a thing is actually in focus or not. And maybe I could manipulate my digital pictures on a computer to have the same kind of color quality my film Canon AE-1 pictures produce, but I don't want to. I want to look through a camera lens, click, take my film to the store, and pick them up the next day with the excited, anxious anticipation of what they'll look like. And then I'll label the back in ballpoint pen just like my other grandma obsessively labels things, and I'll organize them in photo boxes, and put some on the wall, and some in frames, and I'll be happy.

So thank you, Grandma. I have no idea what I will do if your camera breaks someday. Just as I know you're gone, I know Canon doesn't make the AE-1 anymore. But already, you have helped document so many beautiful years of my life, crisply and vibrantly.


  1. *heart* i have fond memories of that camera and it's not even mine.

  2. i love this picture of your grandma

  3. I'm all teared up right now. What a great picture of Grandma at Skip's.

  4. Oh the benefits of it being a non- digital! It can always be fixed as long as you dont run it through a blender. Not so with DSLR's.
    What a great heirloom

  5. Aw, I never knew this story about your camera! I love it and your grandma too. :)