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When the end is the beginning

photography 1967
Polaroid film photography 1967

In the beginning there was film.  Black and white film.

And it got loaded into a Swinger Polaroid camera received for my 12th birthday.  When the picture rolled out of the camera, I patiently waited the proper amount of time and watched as the image I’d just snapped magically appeared on the photographic paper.

Then I swiped solution across the photo to ensure it wouldn’t fade away again.  After it dried, I inserted it into a crazy black and white checked mod patterned album expressly for Swinger polaroid pictures.

And there those photos stayed all these many years.  Occasionally, I pull the photo album out and look back at the interests of my 12-year-old photography.  I had always wanted a camera of my very own back then, and it’s interesting to see what the subjects of my photography were.

My bike standing in the peach orchard of my family home.  Photos of my neighbor playmates and my family.   Our cat.  Trips to the zoo and camping with other youth from my church.  Christmas celebrations from 1966-1970.

And then the photos stop.

Other interests garnered my attention like high school and friends and boys and getting into college.  I occasionally borrowed my parents instamatic camera with the flashcubes that you popped onto the top for indoor shots and took a few color college photos of friends and events with the boyfriend who became my husband.  But buying film and then paying to have it processed wasn’t in my budget, so I didn’t take many pictures.

After our marriage, hubby and I bought ourselves an automatic camera with electronic flash attachment.  With that film, I tried to document our lives together.  Dissatisfied with the results, we moved on to our very first 35 mm single lens reflex camera.  I had to learn how to use F-stops and remember to rewind the film, but did manage to take much nicer photos.  Hubby and I even took a class on how to develop our own film but I’ve forgotten every thing I learned except being in pitch black to take the film out of the canister. 

That camera documented our life in the Southwest – military life, occasional family get-togethers, vacation trips to other states and home, always home. 

photography 1980
35 mm film photography 1980

It recorded the first few years of our oldest daughter’s life, but eventually, that camera stopped working. 

By then, hubby had left the military and we were struggling to live on one salary from his new found career.  We had a child, a mortgage on our first home, car payments, and a whole list of redecorating and updating to accomplish in our home, so we opted for a simple 35 mm point and shoot camera with built in flash because it was less expensive.

Most of the time, I was the one behind the camera lens attempting to capture moments we shared and the places we visited.  When that camera died, we went without one for some time relying on the video recording camera instead.

But eventually, my hankering for a camera to take still photos returned.  And a few years ago, my middle daughter handed down her digital point and shoot camera to me when she bought a new one for herself.  And that’s when I started taking photos just for my own enjoyment.  It reminded me of my old Polaroid.  As soon as I captured the shot, I didn’t have to wait for film to be developed, I could view it immediately.  And if I didn’t like it or it wasn’t as good as I hoped, I could delete it and start over again.

That was another beginning.  The beginning of my new found hobby – taking pictures.  And the more I snapped, the more I enjoyed it.  I progressed onto my own upgraded point and shoot digital – a little Nikon CoolPix – and was amazed at the sights I could capture with it.

But like anything, the more you get involved, the more you want something better. Last year, my husband gifted me with a DSLR, a total surprise for me.  And I’m hooked.  My camera has become my companion even though I’m still learning how to use some of its features. The joy I get from looking through the lens of that camera has been eye-opening.  And that is a beginning – getting to spend time engaged in something I truly enjoy.

photography 2013
Digital Single-Lens Reflex photography 2013

This week’s photo challenge has been “beginning.”  It immediately reminded me of a song from “The Sound of Music” – “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

In my stage of life, I haven’t thought much about beginnings, so reflecting about that concept does prove a good place to…well…begin. 

So many aspects of my life have ended.  I’m in the empty nest stage of life, so raising children and getting them through college has finished.  All of my children are married adults living their own adventures away from home.

My parents and my husband’s parents are both deceased, so caring for them has ended.  The job that was such a huge part of my life is also finished.  There have even been some endings to relationships because of that.  And I’ve lost interest in some activities that used to capture my attention.  And while this is the beginning of a brand new year,  2014 will mark an ending as well when I close out another decade of life and turn the big 6-0.

Yes, I’ve encountered a lot of endings.  But I’ve come to realize those endings may really be a beginning.  The beginning of a stage of life I might actually come to enjoy instead of dread.  We’ll see what begins in this new beginning.  

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” ~ Louis L’Amour