Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Reason I Take Photographs

I like to try and relate my current hobbies / obsessions / deformities to my childhood as often as possible -- it creates a mental link between my hazy past and my mirky future, creating a hazirky present that I find comfortable. For example, my modern day love for funny animal videos comes from a childhood love of monkeys; my love of pickles comes from my childhood love of large wooden barrels. My love for video games stems from the mixture of said monkeys and said barrels.

But when did my love of photography begin? It's fuzzy to me, because as a child my family rarely had the funds for so called "film," and often relied on slapping eachother with silly putty to create family albums. I believe this is why most of of my baby pictures feature the name "Mort Walker" written in script across the bottom.

When I was around the tender age of 6, I received a Micky Mouse camera as a reward for no longer telling my brother to imitate a plinko chip on the basement stairs. The camera was small, blue, and had Micky in classic 80s attire on the top, decked out in blue jeans, a jacket, and that chill mickey attitude. I was in love.

I had no real concept of how the thing worked as a child, but I did enjoy telling people to "say cheese" because honestly, that is one of life's little pleasures, right up there with porch swings and inside-the-bird stuffing. I don't know if any of the photos actually survived to this day, as I doubt I used it often, but one particular photo has stayed with me ...

My family went to a barbeque (I think) to partake in the staples - macaroni salad and iced tea. I packed my mickey camera, because, dammit, people were going to say cheese whether they liked it or not. I took a few shots, mostly upwards due to my diminutive 6 year old stature, and then tried to open the back of the camera to see the photos. My dad yelled to keep it closed, as the sun would ruin the pictures. "Sun? Whatever," said my still-developing brain, and I left the camera laying somewhere around the party, absentmindedly skipping off to see how many deviled eggs one kid can eat before he shits straight paprika.

When my mom and dad gathered everyone up to pile into the minivan and head home, they noticed that my blue camera was nowhere to be found. I don't remember being upset, so most likely I had just forgotten about it. They scanned the area, grabbed it from the patio, and off we went.

When the pictures were developed (most likely a long while later as I doubt Mickey pics made it to the top of the priority list), there was sun-spotted portrait of one of my dad's cousins among the accidental shutter releases, photos of my feet and shots of unenthusiastic cheese-sayers.

My mom turned to my dad. "Did Jake take this?," she asked.

"I don't know," he replied.

I took the photo in my grubby little hand and looked over it. I took the credit, of course, even though I had no memory of actually composing the shot. Most likely I was using the camera as pretend binoculars or some equally silly make-believe.

But maybe, just maybe, there was a tiny bit of talent revealed in that mickey-matic photograph, and that possibility has inspired me to continue shooting to this day. So thanks, mom and dad, for that spark, even though you probably don't even remember it. As God once said to a robot: "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."


Blogger Chris said...

I was hoping you'd have the actual picture to show. I was also hoping I'd one day be an NBA star.

12:12 PM  

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