Conversations with Christian, circa 2011 (age 9)
Learning about film photography:
A few years ago Christian found an old film camera hanging around in our basement. It had belonged to me when I was about his age or a little older - I loved taking pictures even back then. After a while I decided it was high time we put some film back there and have him take pictures, instead of just watching him wander around opening and closing the back, so I picked up some black and white 35mm for him.
Christian and I had talked a fair amount about the idea of film and film photography. I took him into the living room to sit down for a little chat before handing the loaded camera over for the first time.
"Now, what is our number one rule?" I asked him.
He thought about it for a moment.
"Don't waste your film on stupid pictures!" He declared.
"Umm..OK, that is a good rule," I conceded. "But even more important than that?"
He sat perplexed, so I finally just old him.
"Remember, we cannot open the back of the camera now that the film is in. If you do, the film will be ruined." I was really nervous about him not fully understanding this. He loved to push the buttons that made the back door of the camera pop open - it was almost more intriguing than the idea of taking pictures was.
I held out the camera, and he didn't take it. He looked nervous.
"Maybe we should put tape on it," he said. "Let's put tape on it so that I'll remember not to open it."
I was a bit amused at his lack of confidence in himself, but agreed. We taped the back shut.
The real reason for his exaggerated worry was revealed to me a few months later. My former professor, John Telford, generously gave me an old Nikon N80 for Christian to use. About to head out on another photo walk, I handed him a loaded camera again.
He regarded it for a few moments, then asked, "If I open the back, will this explode?"
I stared at him, baffled. It took me a few minutes before I finally understood what he was talking about.
"No no - the film will be exposed - it's not going to explode!!"
No wonder he was so nervous about the possibility of forgetting and opening the back. Also, he must have felt that I had a lot trust in him to hand over what he saw as something similar to a ticking time bomb.
Labels: Oh Brother - The Family Files