This is the first real camera I ever held. It was my father's AE-1 which I guess I inherited five and a half years ago when he died, but until now had been sitting in a drawer in Southbury, CT. It arrived today inside a couple of boxes that contain everything I wanted to keep from the first 18 years of my life. 18 years = two medium boxes. I got yelled at all the time for playing with this camera. One time I took it to school in the seventh grade and really got an earful when my dad found out. Even now when I've become a fairly accomplished photographer with half a dozen cameras which are better, fancier, and more expensive that this one, I find myself feeling unworthy when I hold it. Even though I now own it, it'll never really be mine. It will always be his. But now it'll go on the shelf with the rest of my cameras. I'm not sure it'll see much use when I've got a Leica M4 sitting next to it, but I won't ever part with it. He died before I started to take pictures seriously so he never knew what I would become. He'll never know anything that I'll ever do. In some ways this little thing represents where I started and is a constant reminder of how far I've gone. I don't believe in an afterlife, however when I look at this camera I can at least imagine that he'd be smiling and proud of me, if only for a short time before he started yelling at me for playing with his camera again.
Click to enlarge.