A different sort of lens


When I was about Miss Diva’s age I found an old camera at the resale shop and begged my parents to get it for me. It used 110 film, which was cheaper than the standard 35mm. I think it cost a whopping $3, so my parents relented. I’d save my pennies and quarters to buy film and with great care pick what I wanted to capture. My parents graciously covered the cost of developing them.

I captured plenty of accidental ground shots, blurry faces, and truncated body parts. I learned what my camera could do and what it couldn’t.  Action shots guaranteed a psychedelic blur of color. When it finally gave out due to an accidental gravity test, I think I cried.

As it happens,this week and the first part of next week is spend all my money on field trips week the last week of school. Miss Diva handed me a letter from the teacher advising that they could bring disposable cameras.

“So I can bring mine?”

“No. Yours is not disposable.”

“But it only cost $20.”

“That doesn’t make it disposable. Someone could steal it.”

“So can I have a disposable camera?”

I sighed. “Okay.”

We trekked to Target. I admit, I last bought a disposable camera around the time Miss Drama was born. I still have a used one lying around the house. I should probably get it developed.

Once upon a time one could find half a dozen different types of disposable cameras. Target had two, and only a few of each in stock. When Miss Diva opened it I explained the flash and winding mechanism.

“How do I see the pictures?”

“You don’t.”

“Can I delete them?”

“Nope.”

“How do you get them off and look at them?”

“You send it out to be developed.”

“What happens if a picture is blurry?”

“You throw it away. You only have twenty-seven exposures, so only take pictures of things you really want to capture.”

She sat in the back seat soaking up these solemn revelations. Later on, not two minutes into decorating her camera to make it different than all the other disposable cameras classmates might bring, she accidentally took a picture. I showed her that if she didn’t advance the roll, even if she hit the button again, no more film would be wasted.

I have albums and albums of pictures developed from cameras like her little disposable camera. I carefully picked poses and events, making those twenty-seven exposures last. Looking at the albums, one might think I ceased taking pictures after Miss Drama’s infancy, but I merely went digital.

While Miss Diva is looking at her antiquated camera with annoyance, I look at it and see an echo of my childhood and an end to an era.

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3 responses to “A different sort of lens

  1. Great story. I too have a disposable camera lying around I never developed. But how fascinating to realize that someone who has only used digital cameras may have all these questions about film based ones!

  2. You know, before Phil lending me his camera when Beth was 3, I only ever knew these kind and the very basic point and shoot. I still have those ones which instead of film, shot on a disc like thing – I should probably try to get developed (hahahaha)

    But then he taught me about 35 mm and I began to consume film at an alarming rate. There is something awesome about film and I still have my film eating SLR. However, Phil got wise a couple years ago and said here Danni, have this here wonderful, magical digital Canon. I have to admit it’s much easier to take a gazillion pics and get the right one, without all that development. Heh, heh, heh. I have Nina to model for me after all.

    But I do have a fondness for the old days, right there with you.

    • southerndreamer

      I should probably select some pics from my digital libraries to print and frame. Only problem is that I’ve run out of wall space. Hmmm…

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