I traveled 1.5 million miles with it. But I had almost no photographs of the journey
Title: Frankie Photography
From: La Jolla
Blogging since: 2011
Post Date: January 8, 2013
When I was younger, I used to pore over photos and photo albums that my parents made, looking at them, rearranging them, and remembering the moment that they were taken. I loved those photos.
1989: I buy an Olympus film camera — what a fiasco!
I was 21. I had just graduated from college and decided I had to travel. I bought an Olympus camera and some black-and-white Ilford Film and headed to Central America with my good friend and roommate, Aaron. Aaron was a great photographer, and I always wanted to capture pictures the way he did. He was observant and patient. I was not. I was young and lacked any attention to the details that matter. I didn’t have the patience to learn any of the basics — lighting, focus, composition.
I used up almost all the film during the trip. I took so many pictures of so many interesting things. I was in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and so many other places. I wanted to take pictures of everything! We traveled by bus everywhere and stayed in hotels that cost 90 cents a night. We ate beans and rice and I still got a deadly stomach virus that made me drop 20 pounds. The trip was hard, but we kept taking pictures and capturing all of those wonderful moments.
I was eager to get home, to develop and look at my first pictures taken with my first camera. And then disaster struck. While we were sitting in a bus station after a grueling 24-hour bus ride, one of my bags and one of Aaron’s bags were stolen by thieves. My journal and all of my pictures were stolen. I had a couple of unused rolls of film in my remaining bag, and one in the camera. I was so upset — not necessarily because the bags were stolen, but because all of the moments in time that I had captured were stolen.
I felt as though, somehow, the trip to Guatemala and Central America was all for naught. Just as the tree that falls in the forest when no one is around makes no sound, a trip to Guatemala never happened without the pictures. That was my first experience with photography, and I decided to abandon it. The Olympus camera was buried in a bag somewhere, and I didn’t give a second thought about taking another picture.
For the next 20 years I traveled the world without a camera. I was like a body traveling without a soul.
In 1999, I took a job as a consultant. The job promised to let me travel the world and it did. During the next ten years, I traveled extensively for work. I racked up over 1.5 million air miles. I traveled to London 40 times, to Toronto 30, to Taipei, Tokyo, Sydney, Europe, and just about everywhere in the U.S.
I saw the world, but I never enjoyed it. I just worked. And I hardly ever carried a camera with me. I never captured any images of the world, of the places I had been to or the people I had met. I had significant experiences that I could barely remember. On top of that, I felt like I never enjoyed a minute during all of those trips. I hated it.
I rediscover photography. I am a man obsessed. But I am a man without talent.
In 2009, I made a resolution to buy a nice camera. Not a camera phone, not a point-and-shoot, but a DSLR camera with a lens I could change. I ended up choosing a Canon D50, which was about $500. And that is when I went crazy. I would shoot things from ten different angles, stupid angles that made no sense. I would shoot things without paying attention to the light. I took shots in total darkness that would never turn out.
And all my shots were blurry: out of focus, “what’s going on?” blurry. But it didn’t matter, because I loved it. For every 100 shots I took, I found one that I liked. And for every 100 of those shots I liked, I found one that I loved. That one shot, that was worth everything to me.
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