I was about nine years old. My mom and dad got a Kodak Brownie camera – the old paper backed film (620 if I remember right) hard plastic wonder. It was a viewfinder camera and pretty simple to use – hold it at your waist level and look down into the viewfinder. When you saw what looked good, press the tab/button thing and CLICK you had a photo. Not instantly like the modern digital cameras, you had to fill all twelve exposures on the roll, then rewind the film, then open the camera back and tape the exposed film to keep it from unwinding and being ruined. Then bring it to a drugstore and wait a week or two for the drugstore to get the photos back from where ever they sent them.
It was in the spring and I decided to take the camera to school for show and tell. I can’t remember everything I took photos of that day but I do remember a few. One was a photo of me taking a photo reflected in a hubcap on a car on the way to school. Another was one I had my teacher take of me and two friends on the steps of the school. I wish I could remember who they were. I also had my dad take a photo of me by our 1954 Ford.
The one photo I remember most was on the way home that afternoon, the sun was behind me when I saw an old man who used to watch us kids walk home, he was standing in front of his house. I think he would yell at kids that walked on his grass or just annoyed him some other way. Anyway, I don’t know what possessed me to walk down his sidewalk (about 25 feet) and point my camera at him standing there and CLICK! The next thing I know he is yelling at me and starts to chase me! Well I took off and headed home looking over my shoulder to see if he was still following me.
After the film was developed, I had this nice photo of an old guy I did not know and just thought, I wonder why I did that?
About six months later, in the fall, my mom noticed that the guy I took a photo of died. She kind of knew who he was from meeting his wife at one time. Mom said, “maybe she would like that photo you took of her husband.” I could not argue with my mom, so on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks later, we stopped in front of the house and mom told me to go to the door. The wife answered the door and I stood there with my photograph in hand and said something like “I took this of your husband, maybe you want it” She got tears in her eyes and took it from me, she sort of sobbed something like, that is the only photo ever taken of him, he had some strange ideas and would NEVER let anyone photograph him, Thank you, Thank you! Being only about nine years old, I did not know what else to do, I even thought, did I kill him by taking his picture? Looking back on it, I have to believe God used me to help that widow in her loss, I can’t think of any other reason why I took that photo.
I have been a kind of photo hobbiest ever since and people have asked about some of the photos I take, why would you take that? I guess you never know when it may have some other purpose so if you feel the urge to take a photo, by all means do so.