My Lens to the World
I see life different through the lens. Everything appears clearer, in focus— real. It is my filter into the world. The world that I prefer to see.
It all started when I was in fifth grade and getting ready to go on my first real field trip—To Mystic Seaport in Mystic Connecticut. Known for its collection of sailing ships and boats and for the re-creation of an entire 19th-century seafaring village.
No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get to sleep the night before. My teacher said there were “really big ships” at the Seaport. My mind twirled with visions of large blue sails blowing in the wind, sail boats resting on calm blue waters. Pirates walking round.
My dad had just bought a new camera for his job— A personal injury attorney. Capturing accident scenes was essential to his business. In 1966, “The Swinger” was the first inexpensive instant camera made by Polaroid to come onto the scene, which developed black and white pictures right there on the spot. You could actually see the print come to life. What I didn’t know at the time, but would come to find out many years later, that this camera was so popular, that it became one of the top selling cameras of all time, and that I was hooked on capturing moments forever.
The night before the bus trip, as I laid in my bed, my mind could not stop racing…. I wish I could use my dad’s camera, that would be so cool to have pictures to bring home and show off. Then, I thought there is no way he’s going to let me borrow that new camera, he just bought it. He probably needs it for work. A voice inside of me said …oh, just go ask him anyway. It was well past my bedtime as my dad reminded me, when I found him in the living room reading the paper and drinking a glass of beer.
I blurted my question out so quickly;
“Dad, can I borrow your new camera for my field-trip tomorrow?”
His eyes opened wide and he said,
“Susan… whoa, slow down and say that again.”
I took a deep breath, squeezed two of my fingers on my right hand together using my left hand and said,
“Dad, would it be alright if I borrowed your new camera for the field trip I’m going on tomorrow with my class?"
He took a sip of his beer, smiled, then asked;
“Where are you going?”
“Mystic Seaport.” I answered.
“Sure.” He said, without hesitation.
Tomorrow was Wednesday, his golf day, so he said he wouldn’t be needing the camera that day. I know my Dad liked it quiet when he read his newspaper. So, I contained my excitement.
I skipped away to retrieve the camera from where my dad told me it was. He gave me instructions on the use of it, then he added, 'if you get into any trouble, ask your teacher, she’ll probably know how to help you with it.' I slept with it that night. It is notable for its collection of sailing ships and boats and for the re-creation of the crafts and fabric of an entire 19th-century seafaring village.
At the Seaport, the vision in my ten-year-old head did not compare to what I actually saw magnified through my viewfinder—bright blue cloudless skies, colorful ships tied to piers, calm blue water, ducks in the distance, and white sail after white sail blowing on the row of historic wooden boats. I expected to see a pirate climbing the ropes on this brown, blue and golden painted ship that I couldn’t take my eyes off. This black and white camera with its tiny viewfinder changed my life that sunny, May afternoon. I became illuminated.
At the end of the day. I ended up with two black and white pictures, one blurry, the other a lopsided picture of a big wooden boat showing half of the sails. But you know what? It didn’t matter. I was hooked.
Then came my very own 110 instamatic camera, that I bought with the money from my first job at sixteen years old. A 35 mm Pentax K 1000 in my early twenties, and today a few 35 mm cameras with different sized lenses and even some colorful filters— if I feel like being creative.
My camera’s viewfinder is like my third eye. I can always see what I think is missing and will never grow tired of looking through my lens.