One Camera, Two Photographers, Forty Years Apart
Cameras are time machines. In fact, one camera connected me to my father’s past and our rich family history. Until I discovered an artifact of my family history, I didn’t realize that one camera could connect two photographers, forty years apart.
In 1968, my father was serving in the Navy in Hong Kong. While he was there, he purchased a Minolta SRT 101 camera. The camera was with him throughout his years in the US Navy; it was with him when he met my mother in Oregon; it was with him when he trained to be a smoke jumper in Idaho.
At some point, my father’s camera was abandoned and left in storage. I never recall seeing it during my childhood, although my father does have photos of my older sister taken with the Minolta. When I started my own film project earlier this year, my father offered to dig his old camera out of storage and send it to me. Well, of course I said “Yes, please!”
Then, the camera arrived. When I first held the small, sturdy Minolta in my hands, I immediately imagined my father as a young man, taking pictures of his own adventures. And now, over forty years later, here I am using the same camera, documenting my life. Even though I’m not as adventurous as my father (no smoke jumping for me!), the story surrounding this little camera makes me proud of our family history.
The many photos below were taken by my father, with his trusty Minolta camera. Some were taken in the early 1970s during his smoke jumping days in Idaho. The young man wearing a yellow shirt is my father. I suppose that one must have been taken by one of his buddies.
The remaining photos are mine – scenes from my life – my children and scenes from our city. The simplicity of my photographs contrasts with the adventurous nature of my father’s photos. Yet they are linked by one powerful principle: a love of documenting life stories, no matter how big or small.
After all, that’s the true power of photography, isn’t it? Photographs can quickly transport us back in time to relive our personal stories and better understand our family history. That’s why I consider my father’s camera a priceless artifact of our family story. It helps me stay connected to him and to our family history.
A few notes for those who may be interested in photography: After being in storage for so long, the camera needed some TLC. The smart folks at Camera Techs did a great job bringing it back to life! My father’s archival photos were digitized from slides by the team at Scan Cafe. Their service is outstanding and the prices are quite reasonable! Finally, the photos that I took with my father’s Minolta were processed and scanned by The FIND Lab, which I also recommend.
About Emily McCann: Emily grew up in small town in Oregon and lived a nomadic life after graduating from high school, starting with four years Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington where she studied abroad in Israel. After earning a degree in anthropology, Emily moved to Colorado, got married, and promptly moved again. This time, life took her to Spokane, WA, then Seattle, next Switzerland, and back to Colorado. She finally settled in Seattle with her husband and three kids – probably for good, though her feet are restless enough that she will never feel firmly rooted to any one place! During her travels, Emily was bitten by the photography bug, which led to the start of her business. Stories are her passion, and helping clients preserve their story for future generations is an honor. You can follow along with Emily’s photographic adventures on her Instagram feed, Facebook page and Google + page.