I happened upon this blurry bunny photo yesterday and was amused and entertained for several minutes by the memories evoked by it. Sometime in the sixties I got my first camera and began viewing the world through a little glass square in the top of a box camera. The photo of the bunny and half a dozen others were taken for a science project. I don’t remember the details of the project, but I do remember the rabbits and my science teacher and a rather exiting trip to the science fair that involved formaldehyde spilling in the back of his station wagon. One of my classmates had chicks in glass jars…a recipe for disaster.
Just this past week I read this little item about the Caddo High Science Club in the 1939 issue of the newspaper: “Nina Faye Crossett presented a history of photography…Soon the photographers will have their developing outfit and then watch what you do because there will be plenty of picture taking going on.” Though I wasn’t even thought of in 1939, I do have experience in the darkroom and the “developing outfit” comment was a reminder of those days. I was never quite comfortable with the chemicals and smells and procedures of film developing, but I did it, and most of the time I was pleased with the results.
I wish I could have listened to Nina’s presentation of the history of photography. I’ve heard professors expound about the evolution of the camera and the significance of photography in capturing dramatic moments in history, but I can only imagine the enthusiasm of someone about to be turned loose with a camera on her campus. I surprised a few of my classmates with photos from dances, sporting events, and the playground. I took pictures of teachers and even a few buildings. I never questioned why I took pictures…I just did.
Gary and I have talked many times about how photography has changed just during our lifetime. I remember the excitement of getting color prints instead of black and white. I suffered many a burned finger from “flash cubes”. I recall saving my pennies and often waiting months to have film developed. When I bought a Polaroid it seemed like magic! But no matter how much the equipment and the procedures have changed over the years, the thrill of looking through a lens and the memories evoked by photos are still the same. I suppose that’s why cell phone cameras are so popular. People never tire of preserving the events of their lives.
I have boxes and boxes of old prints, some that aren’t any better than this bunny shot. Now I also have files and files of digital images that I’m proud to say I captured. If I get to the stage where I can’t look through a lens I can certainly spend hours remembering the days when I could.