I got a new camera.
Lissa and I have always had a family camera, but it’s been mostly her thing. She’s the artist, I’m the word guy. She lets me use it whenever I want, so I’ve always taken a lot of pictures, but I never took it terribly seriously. At the newspaper, I work with some really talented shooters, and between Lissa’s artistic vision and the skills of my coworkers, I’m acutely aware of the modesty of my ability to use a camera to identify and then convey a thought.
But taking pictures is fun, and I’m always interested in learning different ways to tell stories, so I got a new camera. I’d been using Lissa’s big DSLR camera lately. It’s a great camera, but it’s a lot of camera, so I settled on a little one that would be easier to just slip in a bag and have with me all the time.
Going through a bunch of my old pictures last night, I came across a set I’d taken back in 2007 when we took Mom and Dad on a joyride on the Railrunner, central New Mexico’s commuter train. What had never really occurred to me until I looked at those pictures was the way Dad always had a camera. I’ve written before about my father’s life in art:
Art was intrinsic to our lives, not a thing separate.
I’ve not particularly thought about my dad as a photographer (he was a painter!), but there he was – me taking pictures of him taking pictures:
These pictures are all kinds of complicated for me. This trip was taken shortly after a doctor told us Dad had Alzheimer’s disease, that the forgetfulness we’d been learning to route around was only the beginning. I remember the trip for that reason, for a ghostly picture I also took that day of Dad’s dim reflection in the train window, a blunt metaphor that’s still painful to look at.
But for reasons I don’t remember, I also took pictures of Dad taking pictures. Dad shot slides most of his life, and had a series of serious cameras (I remember light meters), but he was never a gearhead, and in his later years he mostly just used little instamatic-type cameras that he could slip in a bag and have with him all the time. Sound familiar? So obvious in retrospect.