When I was about 9 years old I received my first camera. It was a little Kodak Hawkeye ‘flashfun’ click and shoot. I clicked and shot… the cat, the flower garden, my family, and friends, who, or whatever would sit still long enough. But in those days, of course one had to be able to afford the processing and printing as well, and at the age of 9 my funds were limited.
I have never been without a camera since then– sometimes even two cameras at a time. I’m hopelessly dyslexic about retaining all the technical information regarding f-stops and shutter speed so I would not have made a good professional photographer. I completed a photography class at University but the chemicals and precision required just didn’t capture my imagination, and I thought my photos would always remain snapshots, and mostly boring.
But in recent years, aside from assisting my very poor memory, my photos have become a source of creative interest. Nothing has aided learning the skills of composition and content more than digital photography, the iPhone and Instagram. I’ve learned that the best camera is the one you have with you, which is always my iPhone. Being able to take copious shots, without the expense of processing, then examine them immediately is a wonderful learning tool. And sharing them on Instagram has opened a whole new world. It’s as if I was born to take little square photos!
I have sense enough to reign in my enthusiasm and enjoy being in the moment when I need to… mostly. Those little square gems just intrigue the hell out of me. Far from mere distraction, the photos require my attention in a way that seems to etch the events into my mind more indelibly. Did you know that your short term memory only stores things for about 20 minutes before it loses them? In order for them to become accessible in the longer term the memories must be processed and linked to something more substantial. I think this is why photos help my memory rather than serve as a distraction.
I first learned about Instagram while reading a Qantas magazine. My husband and I were flying to Perth just after I had had the surgery for my breast cancer, less than two and a half years ago. I read about a fellow who was having an exhibition of photos, all of which were produced through a little app called Instagram. An entire exhibition? Interesting.
I downloaded the app and for the remainder of the trip I was consumed with learning to use it. Don had some business in Perth, and we had decided to make a holiday out of it, before I knew I had cancer. I was in between surgery and radiation, and he was very patient and indulged me, stopping the car for me to photograph trees and cows and flowers on our trip south through the Margaret River region (sounds like I was 9 years old again, doesn’t it?). It transported me to a place where I did not think about cancer every minute of every day and I will always be so grateful for that little app when I was 58, and for the camera that started it all, when I was 9 years old.
Here are some of my early Instagram photos. You will have seen many of the more recent ones in my blog posts. Have a lovely day.