Last week, I came across a picture of a crocheted camera case and it reminded me of the quilted case I made for my old Pentax SLR over a decade ago. The case I had was falling apart despite the duct tape and I couldn’t buy a new one because the camera was so old, so I made my own.
Looking at my old Pentax makes me feel sad. I stopped using film years ago, so this camera, which I once adored and dressed so lovingly, has been sitting unused in the closet for nearly a decade. I know I should get rid of it. It’s broken. I’m used to the convenience and instant results of digital photography. I’ll never go back to film again.
So why don’t I want to let it go?
My Pentax K1000 has shared my life and recorded important moments since my high school graduation. It’s like a member of the family. It’s moved all over the country with me, traveled in Great Britain and Europe. In the past, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going on vacation without it, and it was present at every holiday.
But there’s more to it than that. Taking pictures with film is an art. You have to pay attention and pick your moments. You can’t shoot at random or take hundreds of photos. It costs too much in film and developing. Only things that are worthy are photographed.
Many creatives recommend carrying a camera to help you to see differently. But digital cameras don’t force me to see the way my film camera did. I take digital shots willy-nilly, knowing I can delete or crop anything that comes out badly, and I often miss the shots I should have taken. I am more likely to experiment with digital photography than I was with film, but the pressure to get it right from the start is gone and my digital photos suffer as a result.
My Pentax was my photographic eye, the one that framed my life thoughtfully and captured important moments or vivid scenes so I would have a better chance of remembering them later. It’s the eye that saw my life and my world as art.
I hate saying goodbye — to people, to places, to eras — but my reluctance here isn’t just sentimental. I don’t want to let go of the vision, of how I saw my life through my SLR.
I’ll have to wait a little longer before I try to find it a new home.