Almost ten years ago, Marc and I swanned off on an Eastern European adventure in celebration of our engagement, in lieu of an engagement ring. Carrying everything on your back is, well, heavy, which means prioritizing is a must. In the midst of choosing carefully what would stay and what would travel with us, I insisted on toting along a very old, very heavy Olympus SLR, and two equally old and equally heavy lenses (all of which belonged to my Dad, and I had refurbished before our trip). Did I mention it was heavy. 

A fully manual camera, with a battery just for the light meter (which incidentally stopped working in The Czech Republic, or 1/4 of the way through our trip), might not have been the smartest option for our particular kind of trip, but since ugly pictures make me angry, and point-and-shoot cameras have a bad habit of taking ugly pictures, I didn’t really have much choice. 

After several weeks, 6 countries and 100s (and 100s of photos), we returned and had all those little rolls of film (I know, what the fuck is that) developed. We crossed our fingers, hopeful at least a few gems were hidden inside those wee canisters; our only real proof we’d actually done anything at all. 

After collecting our bounty from the photo shop, we closed our eyes, opening each envelope at arm’s length, terrified that instead of memories, we’d find nothing but blurry, 4×6 pieces of photographic paper, and the message “you should’ve brought a smaller camera, sucka.” 

We were shocked, it wasn’t that the pictures hadn’t turned out (they had), it was what we got was something we hadn’t expected at all:  They weren’t pictures of our trip, they were a chronology of our life, at least the mini-life we’d returned from. It was art and light and dark and beautiful. There were images of stained glass from churches where I used the pews as a tripod, and held my breath, and prayed. There were buildings that changed shape when you looked up, and crosses that blazed in the sky when the sun hit them at just the right time (poor Marc, all the extra walking to get the “right” light). There were ceilings and floors and people and skies and colours and life, all there, in front of us, our friends, our families. It was a story we barely had to tell because it was so clearly described, one little rectangle at a time. 

How could I trust that to a box that chooses my aperture for me? 

Over the years I upgraded to a more current version of what I brought on our trip, and when I eventually succumbed to the reality of digital photography (because despite having a blog and not a journal, I am in fact a luddite. Let us speak not of The Tablet), my parents generously gave me the camer-atic specimen I use today. And even though a baby who refuses to go in a stroller (which means I become a mule instead of a perfect portrait of parenting, strolling a contented baby), a diaper bag and a coffee are a lot of packaging, my “big” camera always came along, even when a “little” camera made a lot more sense. 

And so it has always been, through a puppy, two pregnancies, then two babies, that we have sported waaaay more luggage than our backs (and Marc’s patience) could really bear.  But all that changed about a month ago- when my I added hipstamatic  to my iPhone, and suddently I could take not-shit* pictures with a piece of hardware that fit tidily in my pocket. 

The pictures tend to be grainy, under-exposed and badly composed, but I love them. I love them so much I can’t “stop it with the damn picture-taking.” 

I take them at dinner. 

reflection of marc, 2010

I take them in the bathroom after dinner. 

bathroom pictures seem dirty. which is weird.

I take them at the bar after I finished in the bathroom after dinner. 

looking right (his left) this time. no mirror, 2010

I take them of things that make me laugh and laugh and laugh (for no particular reason, and which don’t seem very funny now), after the bar and the bathroom and dinner. 

FIRE SAFETY PLAN IS IN BEHIND THE BAR

I take pictures of everything. All the time. Because my camera’s in my pocket, which makes taking a picture-making box with me a lot easier (and more likely) than it used to be. 

For the most part I’m liking everything my iPhone gives me. Everything except this picture: 

toronto loves st. patty's day

It was midnight, St. Patrick’s day, and I’d just come home from, er, celebrating, all of which might have impacted my ability to capture the towering green phallus in the night. But I’ve been worse off and done much better, which makes me think it can only be one thing: there’s just no way to make a green penis look good. 

*”not-shit” is a relative term – relative to my ability to effectively use a point-and-shoot camera. if you take beautiful snaps of your dog/cat/baby/house/feet with your point-and-shoot camera, i salute you, and ask you not to judge too harshly my short-coming.

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