The 30th Anniversary Of My First SLR; The Start Of My Journey In Photography
Today is World Photo Day. Strangely, I didn’t have any assignments on and didn’t really shoot any pictures. I photographed the full moon as I got home, but the day was one of meetings and not of actual photography.
It is however the perfect day to reflect back on my photographic career, and specifically on how it all started. I’d always been interested in taking pictures as a child; I guess I liked the click of the camera and the flash going off! So much so that although our family had a Kodak, my Godfather bought me my own camera for my seventh or eight birthday; a Fuji 110 cartridge point and shoot.
As I got into my teens, I really began taking an interest in photographs and photography. The older brother of a friend of mine was a very keen, advanced and creative amateur photographer. I would often chat with him when visiting, look at his cameras and look at his latest pictures and bombard him with questions about technique, composition, camera gear and so on. He was always very patient and I guess could see my deep interest, so would answer all my silly questions and let me play with his (and his father’s) lovely array of Nikon cameras.
In 1986, as I was approaching my 16th birthday, I had saved up my pocket money and would scour the pages of the Argos catalogue, looking at Zenit and Praktica cameras, day dreaming that one day I would have my own real camera! An SLR that I could manually focus and choose the exposure settings as I wanted them.
I mentioned to my self appointed mentor that I was getting ready to pop to Argos and buy A Zenit or Praktica. He suggested I hold off, asked me how much I had saved and told me he’d get back to me. Unbelievable, he had spent the next few days looking through various magazines and had found a special deal on a Nikon which fitted my meagre savings. We met, my pocket full of my cash, got on the tube and made our way to the Tecno on High Street Kensington. Miraculously they had a special offer on the Nikon EM, with a 50mm Nikon E Series lens, a filter, lens hood and I think camera case too.
So, I bought my first camera. A Nikon no less, all thanks to my mentor, who helped me set up the camera, and answered the inevitable questions which followed my weeks of joyous discovery.
Dearest Vahe, I dedicate this post to you. 30 years ago you took this 15 year old and put him on a path which has brought him joy every since. As a result, I’ve really learned about life, through my lens. Met the most interesting people, experienced extremes of sorrow and joy, creation and destruction, with my camera and helped share the plight of people with millions around the planet. You were my first influence and a huge influence. You showed me creativity. You taught me photography and technique and when you were under no obligation to do so, answered my hundreds of questions and found me my first proper camera.
Thank you so much 🙂