Do you remember your first camera? The one that was yours, yours alone? Before I inherited the gear that would develop my passion for photography, I was an awkward 8th grade kid who was given a cheap camera similar to one of these sold today. I spent the part of a day searching for that camera online. I do still have the Vivitar XM300 that replaced my original camera, but never could find the original one.
It was red, took old school 35mm film, and the only thrill was that it could shoot a special wider angle panorama image and a regular one. I took it on youth group trips, on family vacations, and even on my first trip out of the country when I went to France in 8th grade for a school trip. The images were often flat, dull, and blurry if I had to even think about using the flash. I have a lot of vague memories of the people in the pictures. I’m in far too many of them during my heavy acne days (before Accutane).
I can honestly say I had no idea what I was doing. But I still have those pictures, and I remember the feel and (light) weight of that camera in my hands and the weak electronic motor clicking and whirring between film panels. I remember being excited every time I got to drop off the film and when I’d get to get it back. I wish I knew what happened to that camera…
The Vivitar XM300 replaced it. It took a ‘special’ version of 35mm film called APS or Advanced Photo System. What that really means is a different kind of cartridge that could just be plugged into the camera without having to worry about setting film through the rotor. I think that kind of film lasted like… four years. I glanced online, APS 35mm film goes for around 25 dollars a roll, and it’s much more difficult to develop by hand. The camera came with one more button in addition to panorama mode, a shorter pre-Instagram square image portrait mode. This camera traveled with me on charity trips to Mexico and Honduras and has the scratches to prove it. Unlike the older camera, pictures from this one were much sharper, brighter… almost over-saturated with color.
On the left, the second camera, on the right the first…
Some of my favorite pictures from high school came from these images, Honduran mountains in the background while I sit on a hammock in a portrait I don’t actually hate.
It wasn’t until many years later that I actually decided to chase the passion and feeling that photography gave me. The only thing I regret is not giving it more of my time earlier on… and maybe some of the money I’ve spent on Gear Acquirement Syndrome. But I don’t regret where it’s taken me, and I look forward to see where it takes me from here. Do you remember your first camera? Tell me about it in the comments, and have a great December!